Monday, 15 December 2014

Le Challenge December - Ink

And yet again it is time for Le Challenge.  I swear these months seem to come round quicker every time.  "Ink" is the challenge for now. But what to do? Should I get a tattoo ? Some say a tattoo is a form of artwork and self expression, but if it was ruled out by Lucy or Natalie, then my tattoo would be wasted. And artwork or not, as we know a tattoo is for life, not just for December. So, no tattoo then. With all the busyness of December, there's not enough time for a big project. Except that is not strictly true. With Mr Vertigo still visiting with me, (into the fourth week now and definitely outstaying his welcome) I have plenty of time but just not the inclination. Actually I don't even have the time, sleeping all morning, lunch, my daily dose of Agatha Christie on the telly, another doze, a little hypothetical house buying on the telly and another doze before dinner doesn't leave much time for anything else.

But back to ink, and what to do. Easy peasy. I love stationary, pens, pencils, notebooks. I remembered a little scrap of pen nib fabric in my bin, not yet emptied. Just enough to use in covering a notebook. And in a slightly diverse way it made me think of my friend, Miss F.

Miss F and I work together. And Miss F is a bit of a magpie. It is not that she is so much a collector or god forbid a hoarder, more that she has an eclectic mix of possessions. Things that are passed on to her, things nobody else wants, things she spots when out and about or on ebay. Mostly things where you say, "and how on earth did you have that?" This is a person after my own heart. Except all my treasures and useful stuff is stored away, in the roof space. Miss F has all hers to hand. And so, when we do displays in work Miss F always has the perfect thing to bring in  .... an inkwell, a feather quill, an old nibbed dipping pen just come to hand for our recent display.

The name Miss F also stands for Miss Friend. Although I am more of her mother's generation, who incidentally is also very nice, Miss F and I have hit it off. We have similar interests. We both enjoy our dead people. We are both interested, no, we are mildly (?)  obsessed by genealogy. We spend many lunch times frantically looking up "things" on the computer, and have  rushed snippets of conversation, such as what do you think, or what if, where do you think. We are both fascinated not just with the dates and names, but the really interesting bits. The how, they why, the what if, the where. Many of these hows whys ifs and wheres are not even closely related. We know intimately the life of  Miss F's great aunt's husband's family who owned a hotel and my great great grandfather's brother's wife's sisters' families.  Honestly they are fascinating. They were a large family of sisters who moved from Dundee to Galway in the 1860s. One married a society photographer, one had a career with the GPO in London, and one married a King's Messenger who went on to coach entrants to Sandhurst, who wrote a book on flags (now purchased) and whose son wrote a book on the King's Heralds. Our very own James Bond in the family. We had hours of fun with that one. Just a few weeks ago we discovered that the house my grandfather was born in had been in the family for 4 generations. Our work colleagues just tend to roll their eyes when they see us engrossed in quiet conversation. They don't need to worry about who we're gossiping about, they are long dead. 

We both also like to write. Except, I like to think about writing. I enjoy my sporadic blog posts, I enjoy writing up little snippets of family history. But, Miss F writes properly. For the last few years she has taken part in the annual nanowrimo - national novel writing month. Every November she undertakes to write a novel of 50,000 words. Some undertaking. And every November she finishes it. That takes a lot of ink.

And, she also has a great interest in the world of ships, specifically the mariner side of her family roots and also the Nomadic. For anyone who doesn't know the Nomadic, the Nomadic is Titanic's little sister. Impossible to put the Titanic on display but Belfast does have the Nomadic. The Nomadic was used to ferry first class passengers out to the Titanic and was laterally used as a floating restaurant in Paris. Now she is on proud display in Belfast and available for seeing around and for events. Miss F was instrumental in the fund raising and raising of the boat's profile. She is still involved in the Nomadic Preservation Society, in the research and in the restoration of an associated lifeboat. A busy girl indeed. My twins were absolutely obsessed with the Titanic in childhood, so I have a bystander's  reasonable knowledge of this.

And so, a notebook for Miss F. For her to record whatever she wants, or nothing if she feels like it. The only thing is. this is the second or third notebook I have given her for her birthday. Next year I promise it will be something different.

Now back to the book. A pound shop purchase, unfortunately red, but work with what we've got. Its covered with some irish linen, which seems appropriate. To stop the red showing through so much, I have lined it with some fabric just to give some density to the linen. The linen was from Ulster Weavers.

I made a simple slip cover with small hems round the edges for neatness. There is a ribbon casing stitched on the outside for interest and also to incorporate the pen nib fabric. The stamping was done with stazon.  And that's that. The Cross pen is my own, I will of course buy Miss F a pen to "go with" but not this one!


There are also a couple of gratuitous photos here, my new Liberty address book and stationary, bought for me last year by my daughter and some various notebooks. Some are made by me, some were gifted and some were made under the tutelage of Jacqui Milliken at the scrapbooking club I attend.

There has been some other more sewing done, both by myself and the daughter, but more about that next time.

Best wishes
Helen xx


  1. Every notebook is one of a kind, and she uses them, so i don't think repetition is a bad thing. I have a cousin who is the genealogy expert in my family, my great grandfather was from somewhere near Fort William.

  2. Love the sound of miss F and Im sure she will love the notebook/cover. Im one for buying notebooks too, in attempt to be more organized, but alas they tend to end up languishing in one of the desk drawers!

  3. Oh cool! I had to laught at the tattoo idea :) I actually kept the smile on the whole post. You are so funny!

  4. lovely story. lovely book cover too!

  5. Well Miss F sounds like a very interesting young woman! I' m quite sure she'll love her notebook, I love all the Irish/Ulster imput into the making of it too.
    Talk about out staying your welcome...hope Mr Vertigo takes a hike soon!
    V x

  6. Fascinating - I really enjoyed reading all about Miss F and your friendship :-) And I love your notebook cover - what a great gift.

  7. I loved this post! What a nice friendship and so fun to share interests. The notebook cover is beautiful and truly you can never have enough notebooks!! (so says a stationery addict!!) She will love it. Thanks for linking to le challenge! Loving the Liberty too ;)

  8. Great cover! I am sure we would have. Allowed a tatoo ... But this is also a great entry! Thanks for sharing on le challenge!

  9. I love reading your witty blog posts, certainly made me smile. Lovely book covers too.


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