Saturday, 21 March 2009


January is Jamuary in our house. Well, technically it's marmalade, but that doesn't quite have the same ring to it. We do family marmalade, the boys on the juicer, the man on the chopping, me superintending with a clipboard (only a slight exaggeration). We've made marmalade every year for gosh, years, using the handy kits from Riverford the marvellous Tesco of organic veg. You know, they're ubiquitous, you feel you ought to go a bit more local, but they are handy aren't they.

One year Helena arrived mid marmalade, when it was a team effort with 2 other women (that's about a zillion oranges). I think she was a bit surprised to see a quiet Sunday, family kinkatink style.

So this year we made normal orange marmalade, plus extra exciting pink grapefruit marmalade. And then we decorated them all with pretty stickers and tops that my mum bought me for Christmas. Now we have a whole cupboard full of preserves, which should last a whole year.

We copied my friend Kate's recipe for marmalade ice cream and served it for Burn's Night supper, alongside brown bread ice cream, which I thought was quite witty.

Roll on summer and genuine jam. I hope you like jamming too.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Billy's jeans

A little while ago, I saw a lovely wall hanging made out of jeans pockets in Sew Hip. Aha, I thought, that would be perfect for Child A to put all his little things in. Not too whimsical. Not too girly. Not too hard to make. I thought I could just trot along to the charity shop, stock up on jeans and get chopping. Little did I realise that charity shops charge Lots Of Money for jeans, and don't sell battered ones cheaply, preferring to sell them to the rag man. Now, I couldn't bring myself to spend £30 on jeans to cut up. Nor could I really justify wrecking 5 pairs of perfectly servicable trousers to feed my habit.

As you do, I then started whinging about this at work, to my poor office mate, a 23 year man, who just should not be expected to care about my crafting dilemmas. But (fanfare) he did. And he cared so much, the next day he arrived with a carrier bag full of jeans. He's called Billy. I've had this stuck in my head ever since. Only with alternative lyrics.

Billy's jeans,
Alright my lover
He's just a guy who think's that I'm like his Mum
But the kid is not my son...

So I made a wall hanging thing

Which was a bit weird, because it made my house smell of fabric conditioner. Who knew young men could be so fastidious (or that we are so slovenly, that a well conditioned pair of jeans could change the whole smell aesthetic of our house).
It also left me with 5 pairs of trousers with no bottoms. Which was a bit weird too.

Billy could tell me all about all the different pairs of jeans, and what they meant to him, so even though I don't know the stories, it's nice to know that the whole hanging is embued with the sort of memories that crafters often attribute to their scraps and stashes. But one pair clearly had particular meaning as The Best Jeans Ever. Face it, we've all had a pair, we all know just how much they mean to us, and that, daft though it often seems, we don't ever think it will be recaptured. I did offer to repair them, but on inspection realised they were entirely beyond repair. And I'm not his mum.
So I made him a bag out of them. It took rather longer than I expected, and broke 2 sewing machine needles. But I learnt a lot in the process about how jeans are constructed (rather well it would seem)
I made a closure for it with the button from another pair, and managed to salvage the original Levis badge for the front. I lined it with a holey tshirt from my husband. It was a real challenge to make a bag for a man that wasn't too handbaggy, but I think Billy liked it. He certainly said 'Awesome' a lot when I gave it to him, and I see him use it (which makes me smile). But it does have an ongoing air of 'jeans' rather than 'bag' about it, so that when I see it dumped on the floor by his desk, it does just look like someone's left their troos on the floor. My children are given to doing that, but I expect slightly better standards of dress in my office.
I've also made a couple of pairs of 'jeans' for small girls from the rest of the legs:
And now seem to be taking commissions for more. The going rate is 2 pairs of jeans, 2 tshirts and a bottle of wine. I think I might have to up the rate if I'm going to make my fortune!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Wish list

In only a couple of short weeks time it is, in chronological order (as opposed to order of priority, alphabetical, what they add up to if you wrote them in binary) it is Spring (yay!) Mother's Day and My Birthday. Also, by then I'll have done my half marathon, and therefore will have fallen off the wagon in, hopefully, quite a spectacular way. But not immediately afterwards, because I did that in 2006 and it hurt really badly for days, and then I was pregnant.

So, if anyone out there (and really that just means my husband) is wondering what I might like to celebrate with, may I make some suggestions*:

And, most importantly

  • Time to play with it all!

*Not being the greedy type, I don't expect all of this stuff. But a couple of bits would be nice.