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Now that is a headboard!

Made of reclaimed wood by sculptor Ariele Alasko.ImageImage

She also makes lovely painterly/sculptural pieces:

See more here on her blog.

Some of you may remember how around December last year I started blathering about being determined to FINALLY learn to knit properly after nearly 30 years of half-heartedly trying. I told myself this year was the one and if I didn’t learn now, it would never happen.

Well I did it! I have knit my first cardigan!

I started slowly… simple hats, phone socks, legwarmers then more complex stitches in cowls, slowly building up techniques that I would need to do a full garment.

Then I jumped in. I wanted to try the Miriam cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge (who creates beautiful knit designs. Nothing gnomey about her knits!). All that beautiful garter stitch. I just couldn’t resist!

I started in early March and just finished. It went remarkably smooth.

I knit on the tube, while watching tv, at galleries, in cafes, at conferences (!), you get the picture. I am one of THOSE knitters! I knit and I knit and then I knit some more.

I learned how to decrease, join sleeves and pick up stitches to add the neckband.

What an amazing process! I have so much more appreciation for knit design now that I can see how a lot of it works. Invisible seam stitches and the like are so damn CLEVER! Who came up with this shit?

Shockingly, there were no major mishaps, though a few things went buggy when reading the pattern and the body is a few inches longer than I would have liked – less of a ‘chanel jacket’ length and more of a straight cardi. Next time I do this pattern (in splurge quality wool – maybe a cashmere blend. Something flat and smooth that will show off all those garter stitches more sharply, unlike the fuzzier yarn I used this time) I will make sure it is the right length, as it looks cuter at its intended length.

This is what it should have looked like:

Here is how it ended up:

Not bad, but just that titch too long.

If anyone is interested in the full details or wants links to the pattern and other versions of the sweater check it out in my Ravelry projects.

Anyway…I am pretty damned pleased with myself, and have some great outfits planned with it!

Yay! Next!

I had to post this, as I am extremely proud of it. My first truly beautiful knitted …thing!

Insomnia has been rife and I have been knitting like a fiend. I finished my most challenging project to date – this slip stitch Honey Cowl  – a few weeks ago and, though it is not as perfect as I’d hoped (I have come to the realisation that any flaw mars my knitting projects in my twisted, perfectionist brain. Being type A sucks!), it is the best looking thing yet.

Here she is!

Isn’t she GLORIOUS?

I used Madelinetosh’s DK merino in Iris, which cost a bomb – £15.95 a hank and this baby was about a hank and half – but I have to say the yarn is beautiful to work with. It is super silky and soft and the hand dyed hues are GORGEOUS – Iris is a rich indigo/purple.

…oh and it ‘frogs’ (unravels) easily, which is a huge plus if you are learning, as I am, and have to re-knit things constantly!

This cowl took 2 tries to get started, as I found out many hours in – both times – that I had twisted the thing somewhere early on and had to unravel it all and start again!

The pain. The horror.

Self lynching with yarn definitely gets considered in these types of moments. At least the purple would co-ordinate?

Anyway, macabre-ness aside, here is a close up of the ‘honey’ slip stitch which is a lovely, thick, pseudo-waffle. The colour is a bit off in this shot, but you can see the pretty stitch on the front and back of the cowl:

The only downside to the lovely yarn is that it comes from somewhere in California and, as it is hand dyed, takes a while to re-stock. There are only a couple of places that carry it in the UK, like Loop in Camden, so stock is a bit hit and miss, and getting the colour you want a matter of much planning. I was hoping to get a beautiful green for a friend’s cowl I am planning to knit in the next few weeks, but they don’t have any in stock. Sigh.

Anyway – you can see details of this project and find links to the free pattern  and my other projects on my Ravelry profile here.

If you knit and haven’t yet discovered Ravelry – GO. Now! It is an amazing resource.

So far, my grand plan of learning to knit is coming along well.

I have done a couple hats and even designed my own legwarmer pattern for my mom’s tiny little, French legs and am planning to start a …gulp….cardigan (!) in the next few weeks. Very nervous, but it is starting to be fun!

Sort of.

In a masochistic kind of way.

So my next focus for getting things finished around the house (and I say ‘finished’ loosely, as we all know decorating is never REALLY a finite process!), is sorting out the kitchen, once and for all.

Here it is at the mo:

While the cupboards, floor and cooker are recently refurbished and the space is impeccable and maybe just needs a new lick of paint… somehow the room still irks me. It is better with the new Missprint ‘Little Trees’ wallpaper, which I LOVE, but still doesn’t feel right.

It screams BEIGENESS. The cheap, light wood cabinet doors give me the hives, and to make it worse are made out of some laminate that comes with a warning sticker not to use cleaners on it. Just a soft damp cloth. IN A KITCHEN.

A) Why would you even make such a product.
B) What numpt would buy it????

It makes no sense. The manufacturer should be shot.

Unfortunately, as the landlord has recently installed them, I really have to leave them be. So next on the irk list is getting rid the nasty halogen spot lighting. What a minger.

I am not even going to waste time with a photo – it is one of those silver bar deals with 4 lights. Someone thought a novel design feature would be to give it pseudo-retro pointy bits – so it looks like Buck Rogers shot it out of his ‘seat area’ (as a friend would say). It is bad.

So nearly a year later I am pondering how to replace it with something more pleasing, that will give us spot lighting in the needed places. WITHOUT a shadow over the sink when you are washing dishes.

Another irk.

I am full of them.

If there is anything I hate it is not having a direct light over you when you are doing dishes. A flaw in most of the kitchens I have lived with.

After much thought, and with the renting out excuse to make me move on it…I have finally come up with something (which you may have noticed in my olympic shots!. It is not quit done yet, as I need to sort out multiple hanging points, and I need to figure out how it will all work.)

Some of you might recall this post from way back on rise and fall lights – I have been wanting some industrial enamel lighting for a while.

Here are examples of enamel lights which I was using as inspiration:

For weeks I trolled and sniped on eBay for the parts I needed to make the fixture.

A few weeks ago I managed to snag 2 green vintage ‘coolies’ from seller frenchmemories on eBay, who is located in Vienne, France. I mentioned my sadness over not getting the 3rd one I had bid on, and the lovely fellow, Ron, let me know he was listing some more that evening! It was fate.

(I highly recommend his shop for French fleamarket goods, by the way. Enamelware, lighting, etc. Prices are very reasonable, and the man is super sweet. I actually won 2 more shades, as I was hedging my bets to make sure I got the 3rd in the second attempt…and he offered to refund me – unasked- on the one I didn’t need. Did I say SWEET?)

I need to sort out how the other 2 shades will work with the fitting and all the bits and bobs needed. Details make ALL the difference and I am hoping to find just the right brass bulbholder/coloured flex combination to make them shine. I want the brass bits to be chunky, but the hole on the shade is quite narrow, so need to rig up something that will work.

I can only dream of finding beautiful gallery fittings like the one below:


I will also have to sort out how the rose will work with 3 cords coming out of it…and how to hang them… This should be interesting.

I love new projects! I will try to slow down and take shots once I start putting things together and do a proper DIY if any of you Roost-ers are interested!

Wish me luck!

So here is the last 1227 installment…

As mentioned previously, the worst of the restoration was the hinge.

How the feck does one make an Anglepoise hinge? This took quite a bit of ‘art-school’ finagling, but I managed to get it together with a lot of work.

This is what I had:

Anglepoise 1227 hinge - lacking ALL working bits

This is what I needed:

Anglepoise 1227 hinge with all working bits


So after panicking for about a month I decided to take a deep breath and just crack on.

First on the make list were the flat bits that hold the arm structure together when it moves. That one seemed really straight forward… but in the end were much less so, as they ended up being a huge pain in the hindicus.

See, when I was checking them out, I didn’t stop to take into account the movement of the hinge THROUGH the narrow ‘arms’ at the front, which give it a full range of movement. Hence, with the added width of the metal I used they ended up being too fat once the bolt was in and couldn’t pass through. This meant that, months later, last week I spent another, painful, smelly hour filing them thinner – cursing them, and myself, all the while!

But back to the rosy beginning… So since Anglepoise no longer supply parts for their products (environmental policy? What’s that?), I figured I could cut the bits out of any flat metal, so started ripping the place apart looking for suitable bits to chop.

Weeks – possible months- passed, then I stumbled on these Ikea curtain bits we had stored away. The holes were the exact distance needed, so I went for it…

cutting Ikea curtain bits and filing to shape

Using my jeweller’s saw (have I ever mentioned how useful these things are?? Yes.) I cut out the shapes, then painfully filed and sanded. Hateful, tedious and sometimes painful, but got there.

Then. Sigh. Then I had to figure out how to make the spacer bits – that again, you can no longer purchase from Anglepoise, even though they still make them for the new ones. (Evil feckers.  Ok, a moment for a quick rant – nothing liking promoting a little sustainability, eh, Anglepoise, you money-grubbing bastards. Ok. Done now.)

Once again, I searched the home for things to chop up…and found an old metal pen that looked suitable. I chopped bits to size and then filled with epoxy putty, then drilled through this to make them solid.

cutting out spacers from pen and filling with epoxy putty

Not as bad as it sounds, just time consuming.

So now I had my spacer things and my hinging bits – and yes, these are the technical terms – all I needed were new nuts (ha ha) and I was ready to roll. I put it all together, and minus the drama with the width, I had made this thing of beauty:

fully reconstructed Anglepoise 1227 hinge!

*cue angels singing* Ahhhhh.

Was it really worth the effort, gouges, despair, broken finger nails and nasty ghetto hands, I hear you ask?

Well in the end, here was the final costing for those of you considering your own project:

I could probably have gotten an undamaged one on eBay for this price if I had waited. On the other hand, I suppose it was super satisfying taking something that would likely have ended up scrapped for parts and making it look amazing. (Trying to convince myself here, people, work with me.)

And I learned a lot.

…Primarily to cost out a project before bidding. heh.

Anyway, it is done and I now have good lighting for knitting while watching TV. What more could you ask for?

So all together now, the big reveal…here she is, after 5 months in the studio giving me the guilt-eye:

fully restored Anglepoise 1227

And just to make myself feel better (because I am a before and after NUT):

before & after

Ta dah. Phew.

It is done! Finally.

My darling little Anglepoise 1227 is fully restored!

Some of you may recall the drama when I started tallying up the costs of restoring my eBay ‘bargain’ and realised it wasn’t really going to be a bargain at all, but a labour of love.

And when I say labour, I truly mean it! Many months later and a lot of hard work, and I am ready to share at long last.

(I will be posting this in 2 parts so that it isn’t too long, and those who are interested in the process for their own project can follow it through more easily.)

Some of you may remember the eBay shot from back in September of 2011 that started it all:

anglepoise before - eBay shot

This was the state of affairs at the start. No hinge or hinge parts, dings, lots of grime and scratches, some rust and ALL electrical bits needing to be replaced.

The shade was a bit wobbly, so I spent some careful time with pliers and some card to keep from scratching the paint further, gently squeezing it straight.

It worked amazingly well, and you can barely see the wobbles now, when looking straight on. I also gave the inside of the shade a brush finish to clean it up.

shade after straightening and brushing


I replaced bulb holder (and had a lovely reader buy the original, so I didn’t have to feel guilty for buying the shiny new one! Thanks again, Jim.)…

…added an inline switch and new plug – which I got from the recycling depot, so free – and pirated the springs off my Type 75, as I figured the older 1227 has seniority.

I also replaced the cord with twisted silver flex from Urban Cottage Industries which I felt would blend a bit instead of contrasting like the black.

I also had to fix the little spacer plastic bit you can just see at the lower left of the picture above, as one of the plastic pegs had snapped off, so had to drill into it and glue a piece of pen into it to hold it in place.

So… that is the simple bits done.

Later this week  I will post on the brutal hinge reconstruction – which was an utter bi-atch.

Stay tuned if I haven’t lost you on all this technical stuff!

I have been wanting a soft jute bag for years now, but can’t seem to find any for a reasonable price.

There is something about the colour and texture of the soft jute that appeals.

all images via

I have taken up knitting like a mad thing, and am determined to finally learn how to do it properly. I have been trying since I was twelve, and don’t even want to think of the number of decades I have only been able to knit variations of squares. This is the year.

That said, I am thinking once I learn how to decrease and increase reasonably well I might attempt to knit a jute bag or basket.

Something chunky like the Ferm Living one below, perhaps:

Will keep you posted on the journey!

I have gotten sidetracked once again, and have gone all domestic…from sewing …to felting …I am now in the middle of a knitting frenzy!

I have been knitting steadily since the felting fiasco as I have found it is such a fantastic time filler on the dreaded Tube. Oh, and there is nothing like and audience when you don’t know what you are doing (really, people? Have you never seen anyone knit?? heh).

So, bit by bit, I have been slowly pushing myself out of my comfort zone – variations of squares- to things with more complex patterns.

I started with a secret project for a friend’s bday, which was a modified square, but had to learn Kitchener Stitch to join it. What a fantastic thing – a stitch that joins two edges but is invisible. Who knew? (many people, apparently).

Then did this little iphone ‘snuggle’, which I was right thrilled about, as I made it without a pattern:

Again, a square, but a new stitch pattern – Seed Stitch- that required I pay attention somewhat. Joined with…you got it…Kitchener Stitch!

Then a HAT (which I am, again, very proud of, but have not taken a shot of yet), requiring learning how to decrease stitches.

Then …legwarmers.

Yes. Legwarmers.

Did I mention our house is COLD?

Those required learning to knit on double pointed needles which scared the crap out of me.In the end, they aren’t so bad. A bit scary on the Tube though, with all the pointy bits.

The legwarmers have stretched a bit with wearing, though, and are a little big so I think I may have to re-d0 the ribbing so they stay up. That said, they pass nicely as thick slouchy socks  when tucked into my booties for wearing out of the house.

So…the latest step forward is this pretty Honey Cowl (click link for pattern on the fantastic Ravelry site) which I was worried would require too much concentration with my pea brain (awwwk…shiney), but has thus far been ok.

Here is the start in Madelinetosh’s beautiful merino Tosh DK wool in Iris. It is a bit more purple in real life and sort of shimmers between purple and indigo. Really gorgeous wool.

Not cheap, mind, but it is beautiful to work with and has none of those annoying fuzzy fibres in it (kid mohair, angora) which I despise.

I will try to remember to post when done.

Oh, and on top of this, I forgot to mention we are prepping the house for the Olympics, as we have decided to try and rent the Roost headquarters to some lovely Olympic-ers and get the hell out of Dodge!

Busy, busy, busy.

Let me know if you hear of anyone looking to rent… we are 10 mins on a direct bus route to the Stadium!

I will be posting updated images of the house as we get things all tidied up/finished off for July.

So the big reveal on the pillows!

I am positive I have mentioned my love of Ikea’s Saralisa fabric in a past post, but let me say it again….I love the Japanese-kimono, fish-scale-like-pattern (say that all in one breath) in this print:


I used the fabric a few years ago for some bedroom blackout curtains – below in the old flat with the much hated Ikea bed that came with the flat (the sharpest corners in the world. If you love your shins avoid this cheap hunk!) – and still love them today.

I kept telling myself the pattern was too graphic and distinctive to re-use…but then broke down on the pillow front!

So here they are, my new Saralisa cushions.

I decided I didn’t want them matching, as for some reason matching pillows make me slightly retch at the moment.  I also decided they should have zips. Don’t ask me why, though I guess it was because I was telling myself that it would make them more reversible – I put a black and white stripe fabric on the back.

As a result, they took me most of an afternoon as I struggled to figure out how a zip could be hidden in the seam.

Here are a couple of detail shots of the process – minus the endless unpicking! (well, ok, it wasn’t as bad as some other projects, but it did take me a while to sort out.)

Did you see that? I even hand-basted!!! Out of necessity, but STILL!

I think they turned out fairly well, and the zip is fairly concealed. I am well pleased.

( The more observant of you might notice that I snuck a shot of my beloved Glerups in there!)

Sweet Saralisa. I love you.

After months of looking at our once prized cushions, bought with our sofa only 3 years ago and already fraying in a horrifically ghetto way (grrr), a few weeks ago I decided to get on with recovering them.

(Especially as the inner feather cushions were slowly shedding their bounty all over the damn room and making it look like a chicken coop! Enough was enough.)

Here are shots of the offending covers:

So pretty, and yet so fragile, despite the deceiving weight of the fabric.

You’d think for the £50 each Highly Sprung tried to charge us for them, they would have let us know the fabric wasn’t suitable for pillows when we selected it! My only consolation is that I managed to wrangle them into throwing them in for free…so can’t complain TOO loudly. Sort of.

But just look at the fraying:

Three years, and we weren’t rough with them…it is shameful.

Alright, my moaning over, I was telling myself I would go with something understated. Maybe a natural grey wool. Something classic and probably…felted (still obsessed, yes).

So I ordered some beautiful wool swatches:

…and though I saw some beautiful fabrics for future projects, nothing really worked with the sofa.

Too dark or too light in the greys, and looked dull in our nook of a lounge. Even the brights like that fantastic orange didn’t feel right.

Back to the search I went.

I will let you see what I chose later in the week…a bit of a tease, but have to run!


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