Three nice things

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I recently received three gifts, which I thought I would share with you.

Magnetic, extendable, pin retriever, with light

Magnetic pin retriver, with light
Pin retriever

Need I say more? I use a lot of pins. And I drop a lot of pins. And usually they get vacuumed or swept up and due to the bother of picking them out of the stitching and trimming rubble I often lose them. Maybe 50 per cent of my pins (especially if someone else is doing the sweeping or vacuuming) are collateral damage. We have small kids crawling around and all of us take our shoes off in the house so economy plays second fiddle to safety. This wonderful item extends fully so you don’t have to bend down. It has a strong magnet at the end which ensure you only pick up the pin or needle rather than fluff and thread. And it has a powerful light! A little torch that comes on through a screwing action. I love this item, and am so indebted to my husband who gave it to me. Thanks Nick!

Handmade, William Morris, Liberty print, Bias binding

This thoughtful, beautiful bias binding was made by Linde and given to me for my birthday. What a delight! Isn’t it beautiful? I do make a bit of bias binding from time to time, but it is a fag, and I don’t have any special equipment – just a ruler, a washable felt tip, some sharp scissors and an iron. I didn’t ask Linde how she did it, but it is completely even, soft, and just a gorgeous piece of work. Not every one would appreciate the thought and work that went in to a gift like this. The William Morris design is around 150 years old. The fabric is cotton lawn – a really luxurious, stable, close weave cotton. And the colour is so pretty. I will have to think about how to use this binding to really show it off.

Liberty lawn bias binding
Hand made bias binding


You know when so many people across lots of different lives mention something to you that you realise it must be good? This is what happened with Serial.

I have never listened to a podcast, or an audio book. I associated audio cassettes with my old Dad who listen to books when driving (I don’t have a car) and, as he aged, increasingly at home, in bed. I am afraid I put being read to, or listening to something more demanding that the usual bland radio chit-chat, with being old or disabled. But actually, being read to is an interesting and quite delightful idea when you are busy with your hands but your mind is relaxed. So my third gift is having something riveting to listen to when sewing.  Prompted by so many people I listened to Seriel and really enjoyed it. And then it finished, I tried something else which I will also recommend to you.

A couple of years ago my son Gus and I did an evening class in writing short stories. He was a lot better than me, but we had some fun, with a wonderful teacher called Katy Darby.

Katy Darby Liars' League
Katy Darby reading aloud

A published author she also runs a club in London called Liars’ League. (There is also a LL in Hong Kong and NYC). You go to the event (once a month) where new, unpublished short stories are read out by actors. Of course not everyone can get to live events, but the readings are recorded and then uploaded for everyone to enjoy. Why not try listening when you are attaching your silk underlining to your silk dress? Or basting in that sleeve?

11 Responses

  1. Linde

    I am so pleased you like it . I cannot get on with these new fangled machines that make the binding so I do it by hand. I cut the strips on the bias and lay them on my ironing board to measure turnings then iron them down. It is time consuming but I find the end result very satisfying. I use them when a plain fabric garment needs a bit of oomph and I love cotton lawn.

  2. Esme

    The pin retriever! We had one from Shane’s mechanic days… Necessary for getting dropped screws from an engine. Love Linde’s gift, too, so pretty.

  3. Jenny

    I love to make binding too. You get much more variety and are essential for quilt binding. I love to make bias to finish off necklines and sleeve edges too, they are much nicer than the plain stuff. They are easy peasy to make and very satisfying.

    You just made me spend £26! I had to have one of those magnetic pin retrievers and whilst they are very cheap, I had to spend the rest on rotary blades to qualify for free postage.

  4. Jenny

    ….and I am just listening to “The Last Curse” so three good things for you and for me too. Thanks Kate.

  5. Demented Fairy

    Lucky you! I really like to make binding these days. I used to like the little gadget things, but find it easier to use the ironing board and a couple of long needles to set the width. No measuring, nice and even, and quite quick- I still steam my fingers though. I always listen to audiobooks on my ipod these days as well- it keeps me on task and amused even during the long boring jobs like basting [or making binding!]

  6. Stephanie

    Oh my gosh that’s lovely binding. What a terrific gift. And the pin retriever! Likewise, I lose a lot of pins, though fortunately I am only at risk of injuring myself with them. I could use one of those pens. I associate audio books with an ex-boyfriend from my early twenties. On a camping trip around Vermont and New Hampshire he made me listen to the entire biography of Sam Walton of Walmart on audio tape. He (the boyfriend) fancied himself the next Donald Trump and so he was always listening to what he thought of as instruction manuals for being successful, so many hundreds of kilometers in the car were spent this way. Not my favourite thing. I love the idea of short story listening though; I listen to radio documentaries mostly while I am sewing and knitting.

  7. Maggie

    Oh how I need a pin retriever!

    That binding is so lovely. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. It is nice you have a friend who would do that for you.

  8. Sew It Or Throw It

    The maintenance guy at the costume shop where I worked had a magnet-on-a-stick. He would sweep under the machines and then waive the stick over the dust and thread pile and rescue all the pins and bobbins and safety pins, it was brilliant. I’d never seen one before, I assumed he invented it. But I guess not!

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