Welcome to the Ex-Official Blog of Writer, Presenter & Crafts Expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain which stopped being active on 31st August 2016.

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Monday, 25 June 2012

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Spotted With A Kebab

There has been much observation recently that member of the Bollywood royal family Mrs Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (also known as Miss Universe aka the most beautiful woman in the world) is struggling to loose her baby weight. 
(She gave birth to her first child Aaaradhya, earlier this year.)
My own feeling is that maybe it's because she actually loves fast food? After all she is holding a kebab like a revered item here.
And lets not the forget the scene in Dhoom 2 where she wolfs down burgers...
My sister sent me the highly amusing photo above in the post yesterday morning. 
She spotted it in the window of a kebab shop in Italy.
It bares a somewhat striking resemblance to my book Bollywood Crafts....
Which itself was ripped off from Devdas.

Infact, here's the song! Silsila Ye Chaahat Ka from Devdas.
Has anyone else seen this same pose with Aish holding up another fine object? (I wonder why she got flipped over for the kebab shot). I would love to see it, do share!
As for her baby weight...good for her. It proves she's a real woman, anyone who thinks celebrities actually get back to their thin selves after having a baby is naive...they probably have their lumps & bumps surgically removed. 
Aish on the other hand, is looking more gorgeous than ever!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Craftivists & Oxfam Grow Campaign Launch

A Jammy Deal
The tale starts with jam. Tomato jam. Yes that's jam not chutney! Fruity, reddish orangey jam which if you weren't told, could be mistaken as strawberry...or perhaps even orange marmalade without the peel. 
Sweet...like strawberries
There is nothing British about the recipe, it's Kenyan and it's a jam that a lady called Christine sells in Kenya, in order to survive, even though she's retired and should be putting her feet up. Instead she's constantly working in order to survive and look after children who've lost their parents to HIV and Aids. So why was her tomato jam recipe (which I can vouch for is utterly delicious!), being served up at Spitalfields City Farm on a Sunday afternoon? Because Christine and her jam is the inspiration behind a new campaign by Oxfam and the Craftivists Collective.
Craftivist volunteer
Grow is one of Oxfam's campaigns the aim of which is to ensure that everyone in the world has enough to eat...and to put an end to the fact that 1 in 7 people go to sleep hungry while elsewhere 80% of food is wasted...inequality as it's very worst. The Craftivists use craft as a form of activism to raise awareness of issues. Founder Sarah Corbett met Christine when she was in Kenya and was so touched by her tale that she looked for a way to share it. Now five years on, Craftivists have joined forced with Oxfam to get people to think about the world's food system and to consider the role small scale farmers can play in helping food production in developing countries. It's a complex issue and ambitious project but one that is essential.
Farm yard crafters
Over 50 people joined the launch of the campaign, held at Spitalfields City Farm on what was a very lovely sunny afternoon. The practical side of the campaign encourages people to make their own tomato jam using Christine's recipe and to give it to someone who is in a position to make a change such as MPs. Messages are hand-stitched onto the jam jar covers to get them to think and act.
Jar amnesty
So first up, all attendees took a jam jar which had been collected over the past few weeks.
Every jar came with lovely fabric
Inside each jar was everything a person needed to get started, fabric to stitch on, a band to hold it in place, a label and a needle.
Me reading up on the campaign
Before the afternoon got underway we were asked to read the leaflets about the campaign to get a better understanding of the issues.
This video is worth a watch to get a really good understanding of what I have been trying to explain (but they do it better!). It features Sarah from Craftivists talking about the campaign and how the jam and the stitching came together:
(Defo give this video a watch - if not now, bookmark it and watch when you can).
The craftivist crew
As a group we discussed what we thought of Christine's story which forces you to actually shape an opinion. Otherwise you can read something, find it interesting and forget about it. When you're asked to explain your reaction to what you've read you're more likely to take it seriously.
 Equally important therefore is what message you stitch on your jam jar lid and who you give it to. These were some of Craftivist's suggestions.
A finished jar should look something like this!
Amongst the participants were the Shoreditch Sisters branch of the Women's Institute...
Boys...(proving again that craft is for everyone)
Confident stitchers...
 And new comers to the stitch like Natalie from Ohdearism.
As well as jam, there was some live jammin' which added a fine soundtrack to the stitching.
A film crew were also there to record the campaign launch.
Craftivist Sarah invited lots of members of the craft community to take part so it was a fantastic opportunity to also meet some of the other crafty peeps I've encountered via twittersphere, such as Chloe from The Merry Bobbins, pictured here with Sarah.
And here's me with my finished jam! Now to sterilise the jar and fill it with homemade tomato jam. The message I stitched on mine was something that is very personal to me:
Live a simple life so others can simply life.
There is such an emphasis on 'excess' in our culture especially in the west: we're obsessed with having it all - the job, a house, car, social life, latest fashions and technologies and even the finest foods. While billions of people will never have any of the things I've just listed. It is very sad and I wish people would take that issue more seriously as a first step to eradicating this inequality. 
I've long admired Sarah and Craftivists and I learn't today that as much as I love crafting for pleasure, when you craft for a cause, it's much more satisfying.
The event was my second alfresco crafting activity in a month and my second crafting activity this year based on a city farm.
I couldn't therefore not mention my two fave things about this particular location. Such as it has an empty phonebox for the sheep to play in...
 And houses crime fighting pigs! Brilliant!

To find out more about Craftivists and their current campaign visit their website. You can get involved with the project where ever you are in the world.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Stitch London Stitch Crawl 2012

It never rains at the Stitch London Stitch Crawl. Fact. This is because craft has the power to control the weather and with 10,000+ people invited to the event it's no wonder the heavens didn't dare open up. OK so all 10,000 didn't turn up. I purposely didn't count the masses as I knew the number would never seem as impressive. The day however, was.
After all, there were raffles prizes...
Knitters...(this family travelled from Buckinghamshire)
A fabulous host - Pro-Squid league member and knit wit extraordinaire (soon top be even more world famous when her woolley BT Art Phone Box lands in Trafalgar Square later this month) Deadly Knitshade...
And some special guest Crafty Avengers...(me!), the handsome Mr X-Stitch & the lovely Sarah Corbett from The Craftivist Collective.
Mr X-Stitch spread the stitch love to new recruits.
Sarah filled folk in about the work Craftivists do and their new campaign that launches on Sunday (17th June).
While I represented The Make Escape - a monthly craft night I co-run with the delightful Rosie Martin. In my workshop we made paper brooches.
No glue involved...just stitchery.
As the event itself was held to celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day, there was of course plenty of knitting action. These ones caught my eye. The above stripey knits were all made from stunningly coloured yarns from Poundland. A pound well spent!
This was the final sleeve of a jumper that with this immense detail, has taken a year so far in the making.
My favourite spot was this incredible part crocheted, part knitted cardigan, beautifully made...
AND is the same colours as The Make Escape flier!
The knitting action lasted from midday to 6pm. All generations took part...
And no doubt this little lovely one will soon be the youngest knitter in the world if their aunt Lauren has anything to do with it!
This girl knitted a sock whilst wearing a fine cherry necklace and sporting leopard print nails.
One 1/2 of this couple knitted while the other caught up on the weekend papers.
I was also impressed by these wonderful socks. 
Not that you needed them! The sudden afternoon heatwave resulted in heighten picnic activity. If you've ever wondered what crafters eat whilst being creative alfresco, here's a selection of the treats I discovered...
 Home-baked cookies & yummy chocolate rolls
Dried fruit
Spanish omelette - I can verify this was the tastiest egg I've ever eaten. Not sure who made it, but she has talents!

 Soya mince & brown rice (my own creation -leftovers from two nights before!)
It being knitting in public day, I couldn't help but be drawn to the bags - the bags people use to carry their knitting in to allow them to knit in public. Like these two fab cake holdalls.
This creation is too amazing for words, knitted and held together by knitting needles...genius!
These two were simply print-tastic. 
 What I like about Stitch London's philosophy is that all crafts are welcome, not just knitting - also seen on the day was crochet (wish I'd photographed this before and after, watching the square grow was mesmerising.)
Also spotted - quiltmaking and embroidery.
 Highlights of the day were the three raffles - over £300 was raised for Doctors Without Borders of which I contributed to...the evidence being the fact I won a prize!
A rather tasty book! Yay!
Another happy winner! (Very pleased to find out this is the prize this lady had her fingers crossed for!)
And here are some of the brooches made at my workshop.
I can say without a doubt it was the lovliest Saturday afternoon I've had in a very long time. 
Crafting alfresco is just so 'meant to be'. If you've not tried it, make sure you add it to your goal before the summers out!
Also if you get a chance this summer, to get to the Southbank there are lots of lovely things to admire.
 Like this most beautiful fantasy tree.
The chance to watch cardboard TV.
Star in a photography exhibition.
And become a citizen of Antartica.
You can even stamp the passport yourself!

See - definately the best Saturday day I've had in ages. And best of all, it was totally free!

To find out about future Stitch London events visit their website & join their mailing list.
The Festivals of The World exhibition continues at The Southbank until September (and is a must visit!)