Sophie Kingo Blogs

Insight into Sophie Kingo's African-Scandinavian inspired clothing and accessories

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Sophie’s Homemade Christmas

Well, on this cold December afternoon I’ve stumbled across Kirsty’s Homemade Christmas on More4. I can easily trump Kirsty Allsop and her homemade paraphernalia. Not only am I making Christmas presents (of course, that blog post can’t come up till Boxing Day) but I’ve also made Christmas decorations for my and PBM’s first ever real Christmas tree. We gave in last Saturday when we took a walk to Highbury Barn. At £29 for a perfectly formed, albeit short, 4ft Nordman Firtree, we couldn’t resist and proudly brought it home to decorate.

So, here’s a few little, not so great, pictures of some of the decorations I’ve made.

I’ve grown up with Danish flags being draped on the Christmas tree every year and couldn’t let this go with our own tree. Of course, Jeff decided in that case it would be good to have Ghanaian flags on the tree too. However, while red, green and gold are Christmassy colours, as far as I’m aware, flags on Christmas trees isn’t a Ghanaian tradition, and I’m sure a string of small Ghanaian flags isn’t something we could easily get hold of. So, instead I created a string of bunting using West African fabric remnants to drape on the tree, which I think looks lovely.

Another traditional Danish decoration is the julehjerter (Christmas hearts). Normally these are made from paper, however I made some a couple of years ago from salt dough and decorated them with paint and varnish. Not completely perfect but isn’t that the point of homemade?! This year I also made hessian Christmas pouches with a julehjerte cross stitch design and filled them them with some wadding and a cotton pouch with ground cloves, cinnamon and cardamom.

Also featuring on the tree are pompoms made from red yarn, 3D Danish stars made by folding strips of paper, and baubles made by stringing together a few red Ugandan Mzuri beads.

Check out the photos above to see our Afro-Scandinavian inspired tree, and the links above so that you can make similar.


Busy day

Tired. Me. Now. And that’s it. I’ve made enough for today. I’m not making any more. That includes dinner.

It’s been a busy weekend. We joined Streetcar last weekend to earn ourselves a little bit of freedom by avoiding tubes and trains when we just want to head out of the smoke to some countryside. But yesterday we needed the car for lots of London driving: from Highbury at 8.30am to Edmonton Ikea, back to Highbury, down to Belair Park in Dulwich for L1’s 4th birthday party, then on to South Wimbledon for a barbecue at Ben and Karen’s and then home again in the early hours, via London Docklands. This gave me the opportunity to get behind the wheel, which I only get to do when I venture home to Hull every once in a while. I seriously miss driving since selling my car and moving down to the capital, so renting the beemer yesterday and driving for 1.5hours from SW to E to N London at 12.30am this morning was very welcome. And I’d like to say how well I did, for saying it was my first time driving in London, which, for those of you who don’t live here, is frankly 10 times tougher than anywhere else I’ve driven.

Anyway, I digress. So today, we got up a little later than usual, lazed around the flat whilst eating breakfast, then after washing our Ikea purchases and making myself decent I made a coconut and cherry loaf, which I found the recipe for here.

Yum. Next task – framing and hanging the photo which Simone gave us for taking part in her photography project Stands Alone.

We hung the picture in the hallway, which still needs some work to make it as nice as the rest of the flat, but has been nicely added to by the completion of…

…the bunting I started on last weekafter making my bird mobile. I cut some triangles out of scraps of my leftover African fabric I have used to make a number of dresses (check out my past blog posts to take a look) and some oyster card holders and today was the day to finish it. I had hoped I’d have got it done in time to decorate the garden a little for our local big lunch last Sunday, but sadly didn’t.

Still more to add to the hallway. Jeff’s supposed to be buying some vinyl frames to go along the wall above the video entry phone in the picture above, so then it’ll be there.

I then decided to make a couple of new cushion covers for the bedroom out of some of the now many types of West African fabric I have stored in the blue room.

And then, when it came to making up the bed with the new bedding set we bought yesterday at Ikea, I had to measure and sew to size our new pillow cases, which, for some reason beyond me, were far too large for our standard size pillows. And there were four of them.

And that’s it. There’s my making day. Somewhere thrown in there was making omelette, beans and fried bread (it’s the northerner in me apparently) for lunch. And now I’m spent. Cake – check. Lunch – check. Bunting – check. Cushions x 2 – check. Resized pillow cases x 4 – check. And now I’m being sent to the shop for a bottle of red wine. Hey ho. I deserve it. As does Jeff who spent the day reading and annotating To Kill a Mockingbird and is now rustling up a tasty Spag Bol. Ah. Domestic bliss.

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Upcycling for recycling

Also this weekend, I completed my crocheted recycling basket. I stole the idea for this off my sister as a great way to use up the hundreds of plastic shopping bags that we’ve accumulated over several months of Sainsbury’s deliveries. I guess this is my attempt at ‘upcycling’.

Upcycling: The process of converting an industrial nutrient (material) into something of similar or greater value, in its second life (Sustainability Dictionary).



Bird mobile

Some time ago I stumbled across this pattern on Spool Sewing for a bird mobile. I printed out the free pattern, planning to make the mobile. I think that was over a year ago now. This morning I decided to start on some bunting for the flat, and when looking for some paper in a drawer, came across the print-outs for this. So, I parked the bunting and made my own 5 birds for the bird mobile.

I mostly used scraps of 8 different Ghanaian wax cotton fabrics, and included a scrap of Liberty Tana Lawn fabric leftover from my maxi dress and some leftover fabric from my sister’s maxi. I plan to make more to fill it out a bit. But I’m out of wire for the feet at the moment.

We had a blank wall above the TV in the living room and I just couldn’t work out what I wanted there. I had thought about buying a Flensted mobile, such as this, but think this looks great instead:

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Stands Alone

Back in January we received a note in our letterbox looking for people to take part in a final project as part of a neighbour’s postgraduate photography course. We had moved into our shared ownership flat in Highbury Stadium Square, the former home of Arsenal football club, in December last year and had hardly seen any of our neighbours. So when offered the opportunity to meet someone else from the Square (Simone Novotny), her husband and potentially the others taking part, we naturally jumped at the chance. Plus, we’re not really shy, so why not?!

We organised for Simone and Eduardo to come round one Sunday in February to take photos and shoot some footage of us in our flat. This, of course, meant I had to make sure the flat was presentable, after all “we’re missing furniture. We have to make sure it looks good.” Actually, I was a bit nervous as to what to expect. Having your photo taken by people you don’t know, not to mention video footage, to be seen by loads of people on the internet and in an actual physical exhibition, felt quite weird, even if I have got shed loads of photos of me on Facebook and have started blogging photos of me in my dresses.

However, it was a blast. We had a laugh. Though, looking at the photos now I’m wishing I’d made more of an effort to look good. Even if my tights, cardigan and what I’m knitting do nicely coordinate with the cushions and map.

But all that aside, I’m very impressed with the outcomes. The photos Simone has taken look fantastic, and the video’s great. The opening sequence, with everyone entering their flats is hilarious. I’m sure people don’t normally enter their flats heads down, focusing on keys, wry smile on their faces and super speedy! Also, very surreal to see another young couple in their flat on the opposite side of the stadium knitting and playing video games just like us. Great minds eh?!

All round, a great project. You can check it out on Simone’s website, Eyes of Change, along with loads of other great projects she’s undertaken.

And here’s the video. Quick and easy to get to. Enjoy! In the meantime, we’re hoping this is a good jumping off point for meeting our neighbours.

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Some of what I’ve made recently

A couple of years ago my Mum bought me a couple of crochet hooks and a crocheting book to learn how to…crochet. I just couldn’t seem to get it for some reason and rather quickly gave up. So, at Christmas I decided enough was enough and took my book and hooks home to Hull with me to learn to crochet over the holiday. I made two pot holders with scallop edging as practice pieces. Needless to say one is better than the other. Then I decided that, having not seen any nice coasters around for our new flat, I would make my own. So I checked out how to crochet rounds and made those you can see below. Apologies for the dodgy photos.

I haven’t made that much since Christmas. And I still haven’t managed to get photos of the things I made for Christmas presents (see my D’oh post) yet unfortunately. But I have got a couple of (albeit super crap) photos of the bunting I made for L1 and L2, Jeffrey’s cute little nieces, for Christmas above.

Oh, and if you look here you can see the cushions I made from the batik cloth I bought from Obuasi market in Ghana in the summer. I will be making a trip to Brixton market this coming Saturday to buy some more batik and some kente to get brightening up the bedroom. Exciting times.