Friday, 1 September 2023

...tempus fugit (August)

  • At the start of the month we "discovered" a little gem of a place less than twenty minutes up the road from where we live - Oakwell Hall & Country Park. Having lived in the same area for 35 years, it's crazy to think that we could have a 110 acre public space complete with woodland walks, nature trails, cafes, a walled garden and a gift shop, practically on our doorstep and not be aware of its existence...but it turns out that truth really is stranger than fiction. We had a lovely ramble through the woods and fields just to get our bearings and figure out the lie of the land for future visits...  
...and then called at the cafe for a cup of coffee and a cheeky KitKat. Although I'd have to vacate the premises, never to return, if I ever saw a rat in my house, I quite enjoyed watching this sleek-looking youngster vying with the sparrows for some fallen cake crumbs by a neighbouring bench (wisely giving the rat bait station next to the cafe a very wide berth). My husband was not at all impressed by my reasoning that in a rural, outdoor setting (i.e. not inside my house) it's basically just a squirrel without the floofy tail, isn't it?!

  • On the home front, August was a great month for daily mini-harvests of carrots, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries from the garden. There's nothing I like more than a little handful of home-grown goodness to start the day - most of it gathered from pots and containers just outside the back door - fast food at its finest! 
  • In my ongoing personal quest to find the best pinafore/tunic/apron pattern for layering over and under things all year round, I made myself a Sew Liberated Studio Tunic from charity-shop-bought curtain fabric. This is a really well-designed pattern, very enjoyable to sew, and very comfortable to wear. I absolutely LOVE the massive pockets - they're a complete game-changer in those moments where you have something to take upstairs, or put away, or 'deal with in a minute', because you can just slip whatever it is (phone, 'to-do' list, book, secateurs, wool, empty cup etc.) into your pocket rather than putting it down, forgetting about it and/or having to hunt for it later.
From a purely perfectionist point of view I think I 'messed up' with the right hand pocket by (a) cutting the first one from an area of fabric with a big stain in the middle, then (b) absent-mindedly cutting a left hand pocket to replace it, thus leaving myself (c) just enough fabric for a third and final attempt, which resulted in a rather obvious (to me) pattern repetition front and centre (the cluster of orange berries). I also think I need to come down a size or two when (not if) I make another. I like my clothes to be loose fitting/comfortable, and it's designed to be very 'roomy', but when you could probably slip a padded jacket underneath it and still have wriggle room you know you've gone too far!

  • In mid-August I discovered that a dozen or more spiders had set up a crèche around the inside rim of my garden-waste wheelie-bin. I lifted the lid to put some grass cuttings and ivy trimmings in, and they all clasped their little blue egg-sacs to their bosoms in horror, and clung on for dear life. I really agonised about whether to put the bin out for collection that week, but I wasn't sure how long the incubation stage would be, and the bin was pretty full. I did a few emergency practice drills with them over the next few days, opening and closing the lid from time to time, and in the end most of them lived to tell the tale of the Great Rumbling and Tumbling Upside-Down Earthquake Adventure on the day the bin lorry came...

...and then just two weeks later, by the time the next bin collection was due, the spiderlings emerged from their sacs, and scampered away, leaving their poor dehydrated and exhausted mothers to finally rest, in peace...or rather to rest in peace, finally. 
Towards the end of the month we went to a little weekend craft market at Kirkstall Abbey. Some of the normally locked-off areas were open, so we had a wander through, admiring the skill and artistry that had gone into the ancient stonework...
...and I bought a clever little beaded spider at the fair. Goodness knows I love a recurring theme!
So to finish as I started, with a rodent sighting, I looked out of the kitchen window yesterday and spotted a parent mouse teaching a baby mouse how to access the coconut shell bird feeder in the hedge. My reaction to this was another example of my complete double standards when it comes to little furry creatures. Outside my house = 'delightful Beatrix Potter idyll', inside my house = 'waking nightmare, Lord of the Rings "You shall not pass!" scenario'. I know this is completely irrational, contradictory and capricious of me, but we are where we are. As long as they play along with my fantasy that they are 'outdoors mice, who live in the ivy on the garage', and as long as I don't find any droppings in the cupboard under the sink (or worse still catch sight of one scurrying across my kitchen floor late in the evening) then we can coexist in perfect harmony...but once that fragile illusion is shattered, as it occasionally is when the colder, darker, Autumn nights start drawing in, then the traps come out, battle lines are drawn, and the XXS Cat dog runs and hides in her bed upstairs, praying for Spring to come soon.

Thursday, 3 August 2023


The month started with my nephew's wedding. I managed to complete the 72 wedding favour pebbles with time to spare, and (better still) also remembered to take them with us when we travelled down to Bristol - my biggest fear was that after all that effort I'd forget to pack them in the car boot! It was a lovely day, full of laughter and family reminiscing. My nephew was a human tornado as a small child, and we all struggled to keep up with him sometimes, but he now channels his energy into teaching Primary School children, and has ended up marrying the childhood sweetheart he met 11 years ago when they were only 16! I'm so proud of the man he's become, and was so happy to share in his most special day.
Pebble-painting is an addictive hobby. When we got back from Bristol I didn't really want to stop, so I painted a couple more. One for the windowsill...
...and one to give away to my daughter-in-law on her birthday, with a little handmade card.
I also hooked away madly at a crocheted version of this blanket for my impending grandson. I've had the original knitting pattern for years and always wanted to make it for a special someone, but when the opportunity finally arose I just couldn't get the short row construction to work to my satisfaction. After repeated attempts I decided to retain the colour scheme and the 'circle in a square' design, but swap to crochet, having mastered circles in squares during my 100 Day Project last year. 
I was really pleased with the result.
The week before the baby was due to be delivered (by planned Caesarian), my daughter-in-law sent me the image in the top left hand corner below, and asked how cross I thought my son would be if we crafted a version of it? Not enough to stop me from immediately digging out some yellow yarn from the stash and setting to work, was my response. I used this bonnet pattern, and this nappy cover pattern, and then improvised some furry ears, a mane and a button-on tail. The boy arrived safely in mid July, weighing a chunky 9lbs 4 oz, and he is the brand new love of my life! I won't share the photos of him wearing the costume, for (his) privacy reasons, but he looked completely 'roarsome' in it, and I'd be 'lion' if I said otherwise!
There were some beautiful things to feast my eyes on in July...
...but none of them came remotely close to the first meeting with my son's baby boy!

Wednesday, 14 June 2023

...Summer aprons, a Summer wedding and a Summer baby

  • I've been meaning to make myself an Elizabeth Shannon Apron, designed by Ellen Mason/'Odacier', for absolutely ages. I love her sewing and knitting patterns, which can be purchased here and here, because they're so comfy, practical and well-designed. I actually bought the pdf pattern for this apron a couple of years ago and it's been hovering near the top of my 'To Do' list ever since. I even got as far as printing it off and taping the paper pattern pieces together, but never progressed any further. Mainly because, before Jackanory Corner was created, dress-making used to take such a lot of effort! Any project requiring a layout/cutting area larger than the top of my (large) ironing board meant that the folding wallpaper-pasting table had to be dragged out of the cupboard under the stairs, set up in the middle of the living room floor, and then put away again immediately afterwards. First class, Grade A, dyed-in-the-wool procrastinators like myself do not fare well with such obstacles being put in their way - no matter how badly they might want an Elizabeth Shannon Apron in their life. 

Jackanory Corner has been a game-changer. Now I just lift the light-weight desk top my daughter left behind onto my ironing board and, hey presto, I have an instant cutting table. So a couple of weeks ago I finally made my first Elizabeth Shannon, out of a charity-shop duvet cover I bought for £2.99. Bearing in mind that I only used half of one side of the cover, the fabric for this project cost me just 75p. What a bargain! What a useful garment, too, with big, easy-to-get-at pockets and a loose, easy-to-wear fit. There was only one thing for it... make another one as quickly as possible! As luck would have it, there was a barely-used tablecloth (100% cotton, with a rough linen-like texture) waiting for me in the charity shop next to the library when I called by on the off-chance. Just enough fabric to make a rustic plaid Elizabeth Shannon with pattern-matched pockets, for the bargain price of £2.99. Now I can live in Elizabeth Shannons all Summer long.
  • Just over a week ago I got a text message from my nephew, who is getting married at the beginning of July. "Hey. I know I am probably very unorganised in asking you, but would it be possible to have some little painted patterned stones for my wedding? Any colour or pattern would be great and I'd need 72. If my maths is correct it would be about 3 a day up until the day you come down. I completely get it if it's too late now so no pressure at all :) x"  After shaking my head in disbelief (there's no "probably" about his being "very unorganised"), laughing, scolding him, laughing some more, and thanking him for doing the maths for me (he's a primary school teacher, so it's good to know he's numerate), I accepted the challenge. 
I'm now 48 pebbles in to the project (well ahead of schedule) and actually really loving it. Basically, I get to paint and doodle for an hour or two a day, without having to worry about what I'm going to do with the finished product. I also get to justify my hoarding tendencies - keeping that big tub of pebbles in the garage (left over from  a previous wedding pebble project) was totally worth it! You just never know when you're going to need 72 smallish, roundish pebbles at very short notice!

  • The other projects occupying my time recently have been baby related. My first grandchild (a boy) is due in July, and the whole family is getting very excited to meet him. It hasn't been an easy journey to get to this point (where we allow ourselves to get excited) because my poor son and daughter-in-law sadly experienced three miscarriages before finally accessing the specialist treatment that enabled this pregnancy to continue beyond the first trimester. So it's only been in the past few weeks (the start of the third trimester) that preparations have truly got underway. 

First came a group project, where my D-i-L, her sister and her Mum, plus me, my daughter, and my other D-i-L all got together to create a "Macrame Rainbow" wall hanging. The idea came about when my D-i-L saw and liked this wall hanging on Etsy, and my son said, "I bet my Mum could make you one of those". My first thoughts were, "1. That's not Macrame - that's just wool-wrapped rope... 2. I could definitely do that... and 3. It's not really a rainbow if it's just grey, green, and cream, but who am I to question someone else's choice of colour scheme?!" My next thought was, "Wouldn't it be nice to make the act of creating this rainbow a kind of bonding activity, bringing together all the women from both sides of the family?" So the "crafternoon" plan was born, and a few weeks later we all got together to wrap rope, drink tea, eat cake and discuss baby boy names (the bump has been nicknamed "Sid", my D-i-L likes "Hugo", my son favours "Ted", and I plan to call him "Sweet-pea" no matter what). 

It turns out that wrapping wool round rope is trickier than you'd think - at least for a 'mixed ability' group of crafters - so there was quite a variation in the evenness of the wrapped lengths, and the end result is a little wonky in places...but it was created with so much hope and love (even the Daddy-to-be got 'roped in' on the day), and if you ask me, it's these imperfections that make it so special.
My next project was a little lace blanket to take as a gift to the baby shower, last weekend. I wanted it to be really light and airy, just big enough to cover the baby in his pram, or a car seat during the warm Summer months. I used this 'Lace Sampler Baby Blanket' pattern by Amy Gunderson, in a soft, machine-washable acrylic 4-ply. It was nowhere near the gauge specified, so I added a couple of  lace pattern repeats in the first two sections to make a 27" square. Hopefully it will be one of those things that gets well-loved and well-used while he's tiny, and then turned into a blanket for his dolls and teddies when he gets a bit older!

Saturday, 20 May 2023

...birds, bees, flowers, trees...and a dog

  • It took a while to happen this year, but the arrival of the bluebells and the Accidental Poppy in my front garden a week or two ago made it official - Spring has properly sprung! This poppy, with its gorgeous orange flowers, has appeared in the same spot for three years now, so it's technically no longer Accidental, but a Regular Feature - and I couldn't be happier to see it return. I also cannot imagine more perfect companions for it than the bluebells, which seem to be growing thicker and  spreading  further every year. They  complement each other perfectly, and have been making my heart sing every time I open my front door. 
  • Further afield, I was walking the XXSCat dog through the woods last week, enjoying more bluebells, plus wild garlic and wood anemones, when I was struck by the Deep Thought that, "Wood Anemones look really similar to Clematis". This led me to wonder to myself if they were related. So when I got home I Googled it...
...and it turns out that they actually are! As far as I can see, the main difference between my Clematis (on the left), and the Wood Anemone (on the right), is the size of the flowers and the number of sepals...and the fact that the Clematis is wallpaper-ish by inclination, whereas the Wood Anemone is more carpet-like. I was so pleased with myself for spotting the family resemblance and learning something new. I really hope that the Clematis/Wood Anemone connection isn't actually Common Knowledge!
  • I have to admit I'd never have spotted the familial likeness to a buttercup, though. If you know what you're looking for then, yes, the features are there, but that bright sunny yellow is so different to the muted cream, pink and pale green of its cousins. I spied this one on a Magical Mystery Tour at the park with the XXCat dog this week. Rather than me telling her which way to go, I let her be Pack Leader and followed obediently in her wake. We paused for a few minutes to check out a big patch of broom, absolutely covered in bees. You could hear the humming from several feet away.
Then on past my favourite whitebeam tree, across the field (carpeted with daisies and edged with speedwell)... 
...a brief detour into the woods,  past the lake, around the playground, and up the hill towards home. Such a funny, bossy, determined little dog, and a very conscientious Pack Leader, setting a steady pace, checking over her shoulder to make sure I was keeping up, and waiting patiently for me when I fell behind. 
  • Girlie, the very tame blackbird, is a daily source of  delight at the moment. 
I stand just a few feet away from her when she comes for her mealworms, and tell her how lovely it is to see her, how beautiful she is looking, and what a clever bird she is. She is sometimes accompanied by a very handsome, but timid, male blackbird ('Sonny') who watches nervously from the safety of the hedge while the two of us catch up. Yesterday he perched on the corner of next door's garage roof and sang to me for a while, so I'm hoping our friendship will deepen over time.
Both have taken to having gloriously splashy baths in the rainwater bowl provided for their enjoyment. Here is Girlie, flapping her wings and fanning her tailfeathers. Just after she flies away there is the briefest glimpse of Sonny (following from the right).

Friday, 28 April 2023


When my daughter moved out in January, she left behind her old bed - the remaining bottom half of a Ikea bunk-bed, circa 2000. As it was an odd size (a bit narrower and longer than 'standard' single mattresses nowadays) we didn't think anyone else would want it, but I couldn't bear the thought of taking perfectly good wood to the dump either. Fortunately, my husband and I both arrived at the same bright idea for how to repurpose it - I'd claim that we did this independently of one another, were it not for the suspicion that, after many years living with me and my 'keep it, it might come in handy' ways, the poor man has been thoroughly brainwashed. Either way, the decision to incorporate the old bed into the Back Hallway Shelving Project ended up being totally unanimous! 

The Back Hallway Shelving Project Back Story

At some point in our house's history, one of the former owners built an extension onto the back of the house. This was originally just a big room with big windows, known as 'The Sun Room' (according to the label on the main fuseboard). The Sun Room was accessed via the old back door, and a new back door exit was added on the right hand side. Subsequently someone decided to carve out a downstairs toilet/shower room, in the corner of the Sun Room next to the back door, thereby creating a little Back Hallway with three doors off it (the back door, the toilet/shower room door, and the 'What Was Left of The Sun Room' room door. 

Ever since we moved in (circa 2000), the little nook by the back door has been occupied by a very tall, narrow chest of  drawers, originally designed to hold CDs. It belonged to my husband long before we met, and he is (for some unknown reason) very fond of it. I've always hated it (shiny, royal blue, with fiddly brass knobs, what on earth were the designers thinking), but its one saving grace was that it fitted the nook perfectly, and did a sterling job of keeping quite a lot of Stuff and Clutter at bay. Namely, gardening gloves, string, bird food, seed packets, clothes pegs, secateurs (top two drawers); old CDS belonging to no-one, that no-one ever played but no-one wanted to part with (middle two drawers); and old mobile phones, similarly un-part-able-with (bottom two drawers). It was also the main storage point for spare shower curtain rings (just outside the shower room, you know it makes sense). 

In addition to the Hideous Blue Drawers, the Back Hallway has always been home to the Back Hallway Shoe Collection, in recent years consisting of (but not limited to), my husband's cycling shoes (he comes and goes to work on his bike via the back door), his old trainers for bad weather trips to the bin and messy outdoor jobs, his old Crocs for good weather trips to the bin and non-messy outdoor jobs, and my gardening clogs. No matter how many times I put these shoes neatly to one side, they would revert back to a footwear obstacle course format within minutes - becoming one of those chronic domestic issues that irritate you every time you encounter them, but that don't quite meet the threshold for actually doing something about them. At some point last year something finally snapped in my husband, and he started saying, "I think we need a better storage solution for the Back Hallway Shoes. I think we should build some shelves to fit the nook where the blue drawers are". I was happy to (a) solve the shoe problem, and (b) get rid of the Hideous Blue Drawers, but did not want to take on the role of Project Leader. Pointing out that we would first need to sort through the contents of the HBDs brought the project to a screeching halt for many months, until the bunk-bed wood presented itself, like a gift from the Gods.

A Storage Solution is Born

We quickly realised that the four long pieces of wood from the bed base and and side rails could be used to form the uprights for the shelving unit, and that the slats could be used to make the tops of the shelves. After a lot of head scratching and measuring and doodling we decided we had enough room for eight evenly spaced shelves, with a slightly bigger space mid-way to allow easy access to the light switch. A further stint of head-scratching, measuring and doodling led us to the happy conclusion that we had enough shorter pieces from the ends of the bed to make all sixteen shelf supports if we cut them in half lengthwise. A prolonged period of sawing, sanding, drilling and nailing-together ensued...
...until we had eight made-to measure shelves stacked up by the back door. All that remained was to screw the shelves to the uprights, nail some hardboard panels to the back, to give the whole structure more stability, and move it into position in the Back Hallway...
...where it fits perfectly! Here is the side view, seen from the old Sun Room... 
...this is the view from the toilet/shower room...
...and this is the view from the other direction. Did I mention it fits perfectly?!
And just to prove that no husbands were harmed in the making of this project, here are the Hideous Blue Drawers, tucked neatly into the space between the door and the wardrobe in the newly appointed Man Cave (in the little 'spare' bedroom upstairs). He even got to keep quite a few of the CDS that no-one ever plays, and the mobile phones that no-one ever uses. His Man Cave, his Rules!

Sunday, 23 April 2023

Seahouses X

A (belated) eye-candy post from our trip to Seahouses at the end of March.
Rockpools at the end of St Aiden's beach.
'Found Art' timber block boat stands at Seahouses harbour.
Beach monsters fossil/shell collection.
'Painted' rock formations at Cocklawburn beach, near Berwick on Tweed.

Infinite reflective blue space, Bamburgh beach.

Saturday, 15 April 2023

...Making time

It's been a while since I've been able to make time for Making, mostly because Life, the Universe and Everything has been getting in my way! Prior to my daughter moving out in January we reached Off-the-Scale-Stuff-and-Clutter territory - a state of existence where it seems perfectly reasonable to consider "somehow" propping a three-seater settee on its end "somewhere" in a house already piled high with moving-out-boxes (because my daughter set her heart on it over a year ago, before her first house sale fell through, and it was being discontinued in December). Even if I had had the head-space for Making, I certainly didn't have the physical space for it - just a pop-up work-station in a corner of the kitchen for adding the glue and glitter to my crocheted snowflake decorations, because my actual work-station was buried under presents and wrapping paper and other Yuletide-related paraphernalia. 

No sooner had my daughter left, than work on Jackanory Corner commenced, bringing with it a different kind of Stuff-and-Clutter. Buckets and trowels and rolls of wall-paper and pasting tables and step ladders and paint-brushes and rollers and a whole lot of dusty Mess! Although I think that DIY counts as a creative activity, it's not the kind of creative activity that truly fills my heart with joy. Fortunately, my daughter's friend's new baby proved to be exceptionally knit-worthy, so in between all the plastering and wall-papering and painting and cleaning, I did find time to whip up a couple of pairs of woolly bootees (pattern from Zoe Mellor's "Head to Toe Knits"), which helped to scratch my creative itch. I love this pattern - it's perfect for new/knit-worthy babies. Not only are the bootees super-cute, but with the fold-over ribbing keeping them snugly in place, and the stretchy garter stitch providing plenty of growing room, they don't get lost, and they last for months!

In February my Dad had his long-awaited hernia operation, which (literally) removed some of the pressure he'd been under, health-wise, and my Mum had an initial dementia assessment at the beginning of March, to be followed by a CT scan later this week. We haven't had a formal diagnosis yet, but if you think it's Autumn when it's actually Spring, and you think that Jeremy Thorpe is the current Prime Minister, then it's safe to assume there's something going awry with the 'little grey cells'. It wasn't 'til half-way through March that I felt able to carve out some quality Making time, and finally put Jackanory Corner through its paces. It felt so good to be able to work on something, uninterrupted, in a calm, organised, tidy space. 
The 'something' was my twelfth Wiksten top* (if you include the one I made for my Mum). I now have enough of these versatile smocks to live in them all year round, and that's pretty much what I do! I ended up giving the very first one I made to my Mum, as the sleeves were a little too short for my liking. She wore it so much that I made her another one for her birthday. One got downgraded to a kind of cover-all for messy jobs after I accidentally got paint all over it, but the rest remain in constant use. There are two sleeveless ones that can be worn over anything, a couple of thick cold weather ones and several thinner warm weather ones (although they are roomy enough to layer in cold weather too). Most have pockets, a couple don't. I've made them from all sorts of different fabrics - chambray, flannel, double gauze, cotton, even curtain fabric - and the pattern works brilliantly with all of them. This latest one is made from a heavy-duty black denim throw that I found in a charity shop, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. It has a really utilitarian feel, and just like a favourite pair of jeans, the longer you wear it, the comfier it gets. I know this because I've been wearing it almost constantly since I snipped the last thread on the final seam! 

The main item on my current to-do list is my 'Homage to the (Granny) Square' blanket. I was doing ok with it before Christmas, mostly keeping pace with others in the online course's Facebook group, but now it's April, and I'm still plodding through February's tutorials, while more and more of the group are reaching the finishing line. It hasn't helped that I'm currently working on a more fiddly set of squares, which I can't easily set aside and then pick up where I left off a few hours/days later. So I really needed the confidence boost that completing the Wiksten top gave me...
...and Jackanory Corner is helping too. One of the first things I did when it was properly clean and tidy, was to lay out all the squares I'd completed on the floor, in a rough approximation of how they might appear in the finished blanket. The interplay of colours is central to the design, and the choice of which ones to use in each square, and how to arrange them within the blank blanket template is left up to the maker - there is no 'set' sequence to follow, and no two projects are ever the same. Having the space to see how the squares are working together and being able to visualise the blanket more as a whole has made the task of choosing which colours to use more/less/next a lot easier. I just need to keep making time for Making it!
*I would have put a link to the pattern, but it seems that Wiksten have recently ceased trading 😞. A massive loss to dress-makers everywhere, in my humble opinion!

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

...'Jackanory Corner'

Warning: Contains scenes of amateur DIY which some viewers may find distressing. Professional plasterers and decorators may wish to look away now. 

At the end of January, when my daughter's Tardis bedroom had finally been emptied of it's 'enough to fill a small terraced house' contents, I started work on Project Sewing Room - quite a daunting task for a cautious DIYer. The outside wall of this room has been 'problematical' ever since we moved in 23 years ago. We always suspected that the thick, textured wallpaper covering it was hiding a multitude of sins, but with three children in the family the room always had at least one or more occupants, and the opportunity to tackle what lay beneath never really arose. So we just kept painting over it and hoping for the best. Even when we had our windows replaced seven years ago, and the installers did an absolute botch job of plastering the window surrounds (rough lumpy plaster literally smeared on top of the wallpaper), my daughter just hung fairy lights everywhere, and after a while we almost stopped noticing what a mess it actually was.

I was right to feel apprehensive, though, because once we started to peel back the wallpaper it practically fell off the wall, along with scary amounts of ancient plaster, leaving large holes around the window which went all the way through to the brick. Above the window we even found the remnants of some Rupert the Bear wallpaper that had probably been there since the house was built in the 1930s. It was obvious that previous owners had never done much more than skim over the original plaster, and at some point someone had applied horizontal strips of black tar-paper, most of which was still tightly bonded to the wall. In an ideal world we should have taken the whole wall back to the brick and had it properly re-plastered, but we don't know any plasterers and were worried that we wouldn't find anyone interested in doing such a small job. We also knew we didn't have the skill or know-how to tackle this task ourselves. So we decided to follow in the footsteps of past inhabitants and do a 'patch' job instead - leaving anything that still seemed relatively sound in situ, repairing the damaged areas, and then literally papering over the cracks! 
It took me nearly two weeks to prepare the wall for decorating - scraping off the loose tar-paper, filling and sanding all the smaller holes, and building up incremental layers in the large damaged areas each day, until they were finally flush with the surrounding plaster. I levelled out the obvious 'step' in the plasterwork left by the window installers as best I could - reducing it to more of a gentle slope. Not exactly a perfect finish, but still a big improvement on how things were before.
Once I'd reached the 'it's as good as I can get it' stage with the patch job, we covered the entire wall with Wallrock Dampstop Thermic wallpaper - the modern version of the tar-paper previously used to combat damp/condensation. This went up surprisingly easily considering those 'gentle slopes' around the window and all the other lumps and bumps it had to cover - clearly visible in the photo below!. 
I papered over the top of this with a slightly textured vinyl wallpaper chosen to loosely (very loosely) 'match' the wallpaper on the other three walls, and then the whole room got a new coat of paint to tie it all together. The papering and painting stage took another couple of weeks - even working at a snail's pace every osteoarthritic joint in my body was howling in protest by the end of each day.
Once the alcove at the end of the room had been papered and painted we moved my daughter's old wardrobe into position and I took a day off from the decorating to have a clothing declutter. Even though not having to share a wardrobe with my husband any more technically gives me extra storage space, I wanted to take the opportunity to get rid of all the clothes that no longer fit me and/or never get worn. So I sorted them into keepers, hand-me-downs for my sister, hand-me-ups for my Mum, a couple of hardly-worn things for my daughter to sell on Vinted, a few sentimental things saved for upcycling, a big bag for the charity shop, a very small bag for the bin, and 'Hey Presto!' a tidy wardrobe containing only things that fit me and will get worn. I love it!
We also decided to splash out on a new spare bed - the Hemnes day-bed from Ikea, which pulls out to convert from a single to a double and has 3 big storage drawers underneath. Once the bed was made up with some of my daughter's old discarded cushions, a cosy blanket and a couple of rescued charity shop friends, my husband christened it 'Jackanory Corner'. I think he really hit the nail on the head. It's the perfect place to curl up with a book for a while, and makes me wish I was the sort of person who felt refreshed (rather than hungover) after a nap, because if I was, I'd definitely be using it for that too! 
One of my main aims for Project Sewing Room was to have enough storage space for all the fabric and sewing paraphernalia I've squirreled away in various nooks and crannies around the house over the years. My friend gave me a set of three 'vintage' Ikea cupboards when she was clearing out her Mum's house after she died - unlike their modern equivalents they're constructed from solid pine, rather than particle board or veneer, so they're really sturdy, with plenty of drawers, shelves and cupboard space for a sewing hoarder to fill. They've been stacked up against the wall in our bedroom for nearly a year - we thought we'd only be storing them there for a few weeks, but then my daughter's first house purchase fell through. It's lovely to see them finally installed in the space they were intended for, rather than having to squeeze past them at bedtime every night!
I had another sorting and decluttering session before filling the cupboards - gathered all the sewing-related "stuff" I could lay my hands on, and went through it all very methodically. Now I have designated drawers for ribbons, tools, threads, fasteners, buttons, and more. I even have a little drawer for pins and needles! It will be so nice to be able to put my hands on anything I need, without having to think where to find it first...
...and on the other side of the room my little sewing table tucks in perfectly next to the wardrobe. 
I feel so very lucky to have this room of my own. It was worth all the hard work and plaster dust in my hair to get it to this point, and I can't wait to start on some new projects soon. Happy times await me in this cosy little space.

P.S. Best of all, the slopes, lumps and bumps are barely noticeable now - if you ask me, they're all just part of Jackanory Corner's rustic charm!