A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: London

Tatty Devine are having a retrospective of the 20 years they have been in business at the Lethaby Gallery in London. I entered a competition on Twitter, where they asked fans to share their favourite piece. I chose the rainbow necklace I made at another workshop I attended.

I was a little disappointed not to win, especially because I felt faked out when the gallery tagged me as the runner-up. Then there was a plot twist. The winner kindly offered me her +1 and before I knew it I was reorganising my Saturday plans so that I could go. Yeah, I guess I hadn’t checked my diary when I entered the competition.

I’ve actually been to a free bunting workshop at TD before. I just scrolled back through my Instagram feed to look for a picture and it was nearly four years ago!

I’d slightly hoped they might have some offcuts from the amazing acrylic they were using for another workshop available, but they didn’t.

I initially went for my default option of rainbow. However, since I know I’m pretty fast at making up the jewellery (I must have been to at least five workshops even though I haven’t blogged them all) I decided to spend a little longer at the design stage.

I laid out every colour of acrylic available, grouping them by the colours I felt went together. And this more pastelly option presented itself.

I also had a look around the exhibition- which I recommend if you are in the King’s Cross area for an hour or so. I first became aware of Tatty Devine when I was at university, so I’ve been well over ten years (god that makes me feel old). I remembered a lot of the collections. It’s interesting to notice how my tastes and personal style have evolved, and how that is reflected in the Tatty pieces I have been drawn to.

The founders of TD met at art school and I found myself, not for the first time, regretful about the way my life has turned out.

I don’t think the idea of studying art even crossed my mind when I was 17 and choosing universities, or even when I was 15 and choosing A’level subjects. I did art and graphics when I was at school. Back in those days, I think you had to choose a creative subject (art, music or drama) and a technology (my school was a ‘technology college’ and I think the choices were food tech, graphics or resistant materials (which once would have been woodwork and metalwork)) for GCSE.

Even though I spent more time on my creative subjects than all the others put together, I was raised with the idea that a woman has to earn her own money. Following my creative streak simply didn’t seem compatible with gainful employment. I ended up spending three wilderness years studying psychology at Oxford, then (after a couple of years of low-paid employment) a further three getting my professional doctorate to get the job I have now. While I don’t hate my day job, it’s also not a passion for me.

I tend to see some kind of second career in my future. I can’t imagine doing the same job for the next several decades. But at the same time, setting up a small business seems like an awful lot of work compared to the relative safety of my life now.

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I didn’t post about my twelfth OddBox because I didn’t make anything that interesting. Here is what I received in my most recent instalment.

My flatmate brought me some curry mix back from Singapore. I used some onions, the squash and potatoes in a vegan curry. It was really tasty!

I added a block of Tofoo brand extra-firm tofu to increase the protein content. The curry paste is pretty spicy so it’s nice to have something bland in there too.

I used the beetroot, an apple and the remaining onions in this vegan galette.

I found the recipe on Pinterest. I have to say the galette is amazing. The vegetables all have the right texture (this was on me, I roasted them for different amounts of time until I was happy) and their natural taste is enhanced by the dressing. The pastry is lovely and crisp. I used chunky sea salt that adds an extra crunch too. I was worried that it would be horribly dry. Like the vegan patties I made, the galette is on the dry side but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.

You can easily adjust the recipe according to what you have. I used quite a bit more veg than stated in the recipe (due to what I had on hand). I just rolled the pastry extra-thin and piled the veg high. It worked well.

I made soup with the cabbage.


Last week, I returned from Lapland to my latest OddBox delivery.

I must say that I was baffled by the item in the bottom left corner. I thought it was a beetroot but there was no indication on the website or letter that we would get beetroot this week. I then thought it might be a really big potato. It smelled like a potato.

It was indeed a yellow beetroot, though I wasn’t entirely certain until I had cooked and tasted it 🙈

I stir-fried the cavolo nero and purple broccoli.

I followed the recipe that came in the box for a roasted carrot and lentil salad. I don’t really like roasted carrot (I prefer sweet potato) but I liked the lentils and dressing, and it was pretty filling.

I also followed the vegetable soup recipe from the box. The soup is serviceable but it looks repulsive.

I also managed to have zero waste vegan quidditch tournament! When I realised that the only available food would be from a burger van, I took some time to food prep. I had shopped in the Source and Lemons & Limes, a lovely greengrocer in Chiswick. I made the satay noodle dish I’ve done a few times before.

I packed two servings and warmed them up each morning before transferring to my vacuum flask.

Since I was volunteering, I got a £5 food voucher. I got some (black) coffee in my keep cup and the lid of my food container saved a couple of polystyrene trays from landfill. Its so nice to be able to eat hot food when you’re standing around outside in Manchester all day.

The team I was coaching came third and my club’s second team (London Unstoppables) took silver, so all in all a successful weekend.


Last weekend was really a tale of two embroidery workshops. After spending a happy Friday evening stitching a vagina at the Tate Modern, I got up bright and early on Saturday to travel to the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace.

When I was really unhappy in my job over the summer, I started thinking about alternative things to do with my life. One option I considered was a degree in needlework. I had really enjoyed playing around with beading when I tried to stem the flow of damage to my beautiful vintage jacket. I thought it might be a good idea to try out a workshop before taking things any further.

The price of the workshop (£125 I think) included the kit. The kits were on sale in the shop downstairs for £45. It includes most things you will need to make the song thrush, though not a large embroidery hoop. I picked one up from the RSN shop because I only have a little hoop at home and it’s not very good.

The first step was to create the beak using satin stitch. We then tacked a piece of felt padding to the linen.

We next learnt how to use soft thread to create an additional level of padding. This helps to make the final item more 3D.

We learnt three gold work techniques; couching, pearl purl and cut work. You can see a little bit of all three in the photo below. The head is couched in gilt thread, the wings are outlined in gold pearl purl and the brown bits on the wings are the cut work.

This is what I had achieved after the five hours of the workshop. I’m not sure when I’ll have some time to return to it, but it’s a project that I definitely want to finish.

I really enjoyed doing this workshop. I found the process really absorbing and meditative. Of course, I had my usual feelings of competition with my classmates. I’d been a little anxious when we were waiting to be picked up and I noticed that there was only one other person under the age of 60. The other women had probably been embroidering longer than I had been alive! Fortunately, the techniques for gold work are actually fairly straightforward providing you have decent fine motor skills and patience.

Funnily enough, I spotted some brooches in Liberty a few weeks ago that really caught my eye.

The company is called Macon & Lesquoy if you want to check them out. Their pieces are really stunning and contemporary. When I saw that the labels indicated the patches were handmade, I couldn’t work out how such tiny beading could be done. I realise now that a lot of the design is metalwork. I feel really inspired by learning this technique and I have some designs in mind that I would love to be able to create one day.


Last Friday was Lates night at the Tate Modern. I haven’t been to one of these events in a long time. They are normally good fun, but can get really busy since they are free.

We managed to get tickets to the keynote discussion featuring Susie Orbach. Hearing her speak really took me back to my days at the Tavistock studying psychoanalysis. I will definitely be looking out for her books in future.

The real clincher that got me to go along was a vagina embroidery workshop.

As Anna pointed out, this could definitely be used as a ‘tag yourself’ meme.

Once Paula and I braved the crowds to get hold of some embroidery hoops, we used stamps to put the designs on our fabric.

I kept it quite simple and did a chain stitch design. Here we are with the progress we had made after around an hour of work.

I decided to finish it up when I got home, since I had taken some extra thread with me.

There is another design (the same as my friend’s in the picture of us) in the shirting under the hoop. Maybe I will make it up one day, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure what I will do with one embroidered vagina, so I don’t think I need two yet.

I’m really glad I went out even though I wasn’t feeling too well on Friday. I’ve been feeling for a while that I would like to get more into embroidery, so this was a great way to dip my toe in the water.


My most recent Oddbox arrived during the busy final week of Veganuary.

I made some sticky sesame cauliflower. Since I didn’t have any sesame seeds, I added in some cashews. It was pretty nice- possibly some of the enjoyment was lowered because I didn’t reduce the sauce enough. I’m not sure if I would make this again because it really was not filling. I still struggle to remember that just because something looks like a decent amount of food, vegetables simply do not fill me up.

I haven’t eaten a turnip (to my knowledge) in years so I decided to roast it. The roasted turnip was okay. I wasn’t sure if I like turnip but I think that it’s swede that I really hate. I don’t tend to like bitter vegetables. The leftover roast swede was slimy and inedible so I stuck that in with the remaining cauliflower when I made some meatless balls. I’ve made this recipe before. It’s quite easy, filling and a good way to get rid of cauliflower.

The kale, cucumber and fruit went into either smoothies or lassis. I decided to go with a lassi as a non-vegan treat but I made the regrettable decision to try kefir rather than using Greek yoghurt. I will certainly not be doing that again. I juiced the carrots as I did with the beets last week. I am going to stop juicing until I have found a responsible way of disposing of my food waste. Even though I am ‘using’ the veg, in reality most of it is going in the bin.

Overall not the most interesting week but things have been so busy and hectic that I’m just pleased to have managed not to waste much food.

Weekly tilt

I stayed in a hotel at the weekend and remembered anew that sachets of instant coffee and individually wrapped tea bags are the status quo at most chains. I need to start travelling with my own sustainable solution. At home, I have vegan flat whites made from package-free beans and oat milk (tetra pak but not much alternative at present).

Weekly triumph

I have managed to convince my aunt to stop wrapping presents for me in foil gift wrap (it’s my birthday on Thursday). Even though there is still tape, at least I know that it’s reused paper rather than virgin material.


Day 29

Our Finnish friend brought us some rye bread that she recommended for avocado toast.

It was very nice indeed. I had the last serving of white chilli for lunch. I was still hungry after eating my energy bar when I was finished with my school visit. I got a Crosstown doughnut.

I had some of the pea soup I made last week for dinner. It was quite spicy! Maybe I added too much pepper.

Day 30

Had avocado toast first thing, then some leftover hummus and oatcakes after the gym. I had an early lunch of pea soup before heading to a meeting. We went for a couple of drinks after the meeting and I ate a lot of the crisps on offer. I had a patty on the tube home and then some (more) oatcakes with almond butter because I was still hungry.

I also figured out how the use the juicer because I wanted to get rid of the last giant beetroot I had. I made beetroot, apple and celery juice with some turmeric and ginger. It was pretty nice, but I am just not that crazy about beetroot.

Day 31

I had the rest of the juice and a banana and almond butter toastie for breakfast. I didn’t have any chocolate to add, but it was still tasty.

I was already peckish on my way back to the office at 11.30 so I decided to try the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll. Overall the experience was pretty identical to eating a normal sausage roll, i.e. initially pleasurable but overall regrettable.

I had the last of the satay-style noodles for my proper lunch. For dinner, I went to BoxPark with some friends to see Veganuary out in style. I had my first experience of seitan courtesy of the Athenian. My flatmate and I split a doner kebab.

And some jackfruit ‘wings’ from Biff’s Jack Shack.

I wasn’t that keen on all of the flavours. I liked the sweetest one (I think it had bourbon in it. If I go back to BoxPark (and I’m sure I will at some point), I would like to try their burger.

Final reflections

Overall Veganuary was a positive experience after a difficult start. As hoped, it has opened my eyes to the amazing array of vegan options on offer in London.

My friend Emma used the term freegan, which I prefer to flexitarian. Overall my intention is to remain mostly plant-based, especially at home. However, it’s important for me to give myself permission to occasionally choose animal products if that’s what makes sense or what I want in a particular situation.

I was a little bit concerned that I would gain weight because I have been eating so much more than normal. In fact, I have lost about 1-2kg over the course of the month. While our society normally celebrates women taking up as little space as possible, I’m not sure if this is a good thing. I was already a healthy weight so I hope this does not mean that I have lost muscle mass.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4