Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'm sorry that I haven't been here lately.   We've had some bad news about the health of two close relatives and have been concentrating on that for now.    Hope to be back blogging again in the New Year.

Also (and I know not remotely in the same league) a fox stole our little Hilda Hen and thereby removed a simple source of joy from our lives.   Poor little Hilda who did no-one any harm and laid us lovely wee brown eggs nearly every day.   

But I wish you all a very joyful Christmas and hope that 2011 is a happy and peaceful year for you.    Thank you all for your friendship, your comments and kindness.

bob bob bobbin' along

Monday, 6 December 2010


Before you go jumping to any conclusions, I need to say straight away that I did not create these to-die-for fabrics.   That was Lesley from Printed Material, who is so adventurous and artistic and generous all in one person that it's hard to believe she's real.   

You have to be so careful about saying you like something she's done, or the next thing you know, there's a postman ringing the doorbell because he can't make a big Welsh parcel fit through the letter box.   
I've wanted to show you these lovely pieces for ages, but what with the C*******s fair production-line in full swing, I haven't had time to work with them in a way that I hoped would do them justice.   And they deserved a better fate than to be 'put away for best'.
I love the way these sage leaves remind me of the stands of rustling poplars we see on holidays in France.   And, oooh, who doesn't love indigo-and-rust.  
Please address any questions about the methods employed to produce wonderful cyanotypes to the lady herself - it's all waaaaaay beyond my ken!  

I really wanted to make Lesley something using her fabrics and decided that what she needed was a gathering bag.   I know she's already taken the first timid steps towards being the kind of person for whom such an item is indispensable.  She has flirted with having a 'collections tray' when (allegedly) working in the garden and she lives on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast, so opportunities a-plenty for gathering.
What size to make it?   No good if it's too small and squashes your precious leaves and feathers treasure.   But if it's too big you won't want to be bothered taking it out with you and on top of that there's the danger that you might be tempted to 'gather' heavy things.  

Heavy things are fine if you're out strolling with a new beau, who, in his adoration of you, is only too eager to fill his pockets with sandy pebbles, skulls of small rodents, hag stones, acorn cups, razor clam shells, wool that caught on the barbed wire, interesting bits of broken blue-and-white china, sea-glass, useful rusty pieces of broken farm implement, pheasant tail-feathers etc. etc.   However, big mistake when the honeymoon's over and you are made to carry your own stuff....   

So, though I have no reason to doubt that Lesley's husband is still in that, "oh sweetie,  let me carry that heavy feather for you" phase, I made a tactfully average-size linen bag in case the girl has to make her own arrangements.   It has a calico lining, a handle made from that hessian-y kind of tape which I think is something to do with carpet binding and a weeny free-machined tag held on with a wooden button.

A hand-shape appealed to me and I chose a piece of Lesley's fabric that suggested there were pebbles resting in the palm.  I appliqued it on to some sandy-coloured fabric with beautiful bold leaf/seed pod shapes printed on it.  

Thank you Lesley.   Hope you enjoy gathering!


Wednesday, 1 December 2010


A few weeks ago I attended the funeral in the village of an old man whom I had met only a very few times, a man who once astonished me by telling me that he remembered me in his prayers each night.   Jim was born in this village and lived here for over 90 years.   His family has long associations with the area.   Deep roots and spreading branches.  

His funeral was held in the Baptist Meeting, an early 18th century stone chapel at the top of the hill, where Jim had worshipped all his life.   I've always loved this building.   It stands four-square though quite small, full of soft pine pews polished for nearly three hundred years by the seats of woollen trousers.   Like many non-conformist places of worship, it has an upper balconied storey, keeping the congregation close and cosy.   When the minister stretched up his arm from the pulpit below, I could almost have touched his hand.  

The minister knew Jim and his family well and conducted the service with great affection.   There was a bit of a muddle with the order of the hymns and he graciously suffered a fairly robust reprimand from the organist - herself 90 years old, deaf as a post and clearly not one to stand any nonsense.  

Although I was only in Jim's company on a handful of occasions, he unfailingly told me the same old story.   His wife would roll her eyes, affectionately.  But I cherish the story and he always held my hand during the telling.  Hold my hand.   Here's the story.

Jim was the youngest of a large family and on the day that he was born his father had been out toiling in the fields all day.   When he arrived home he bounded upstairs to their cottage bedroom to greet his wife and asked, "Well, girl, what have you given me this time?"  "I've given you a little cherub", she replied.  

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Birds of a feather

linen robin

Well, thank goodness, I think, that the craft tables are pretty much done and dusted.   Sales weren't brilliant, but then I wasn't really at the right kind of venues to ensure they would be.   One was our local church bazaar, competing with White Elephant stall, home-made cakes and bowling for the pig.   What chance do you stand?!   Lots of people were very complimentary about my stuff, some even bought things, but there was the inevitable "£3! Just for that!"   It was the end of a long day, and with hindsight my reply was perhaps a bit snappy.... She did go and purchase a revolting glittery plastic poinsettia at the next stall, so I was glad she didn't want one of my cinnamon sacks.   I only want them to go to good homes.   Since I was trying to do two of these events on the same day, my dear husband offered to act as gofer and lovely Anne spent her afternoon manning my second table - she's a treasure and a much better saleswoman than I'll ever be!   To say (an inadequate) thank you I made her some owl bunting from an online tutorial I saw.   Actually, the one I saw said 'Merry Christmas', but time constraints dictated that Anne's version only said 'NOEL' .... not even a 'JOYEUX' ....

Star Strings
I love making these and they're usually popular.   The picture just shows the middle section of the 'string' which is over 4' long: there's more bobbles and circles of hand-made felt with a big star with a wooden star button on it at the top, and a big silver jingle-bell at the bottom.   I took a few orders for these at the weekend, as I'd only had time to make 4 for the fair. 

A few weekends ago I drove over to a craft fair in a village near Cambridge and had the privilege of meeting artist Celia Hart and seeing her work at first hand.  (Celia's blog is Purple Podded Peas).   I absolutely love her nature-themed lino cut prints and treated myself to a bundle of bird notecards ....
... and a large card print of a Buff Orpington hen - (it just reminded me of Fanny and Hilda Hen, who are both moulting at the moment - I have told them that snow is forecast - and have lost their tails) ...  
 ... and a collection of tree ornaments, a hen, a reindeer, an angel, a bear and a comet. 
 Can't wait to see them hanging on the Christmas Tree.
Celia has also recently started a collaborative venture with Rachel Simpson and together they have produced some beautiful jewellery - see it here.

These sweet little tags below from Pearl Crafted are taken from an old Rupert Annual.   I remember reading Rupert stories to myself when I was little and being slighty uncomfortable about the rhyming couplet captions, although there were ordinary prose bits of story too.   Oh, did that sound as if I would have known at the age of 7 what a rhyming couplet was?   Though that does bring to mind a conversation at the tea-table on the day that we had our school photograph taken, when I must have been about 6 years old.    Dad asking, "And did the photographer have his camera on a stand with three legs?"  Me - "Oh, do you mean a tripod?"   Precocious, moi?  

Butternut squash with black rice, pine-nuts and raisins - made for veggie friends - there was Bakewell tart too, but, strange to say, nothing left to photograph today .....  (sorry about the buttery smudge on the page, but then all my favourite recipes seem to have remnants of ingredients and greasy thumbprints over them).   The squash was sooooo delicious  that we'll be having it again very soon.

Did I mention that I've got a nasty cough and cold?  Which is why I've managed at last to get a new entry here on my blog - I don't feel too guilty about being snuggled up with my laptop as I've been instructed (at least twice) to take it easy today.   I did plump some cushions and vacuum the landing carpet, which was covered in little threads and scraps of fabric which had been walked out of my workroom stuck to my socks.   That's enough drudgery for one day!

         See you again soon!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Giveaway and left lovely comments.

I gave each comment a number, wrote it on folded paper and placed them in two boxes, depending on which set the commenter had chosen.   The few who didn't specify were divided equally between the two boxes.   Then the random number picker (my husband) pulled out a piece of paper from both boxes and the results were:

                      drrrrrrruuuuummmmm rollllll please -

Commenter number 16, Kim, of thewildhare, who seems to have left the choice to me, so she wins the linen and cinnamon collection.

Commenter number 4, Jee from Jeeandme, who chose the birdie and bobbles set.

Congratulations!  If you lovely ladies can email me your addresses, I'll parcel the goodies up and get them to you pronto.   (see my Profile for email address)

Christmas trees for my craft stalls

Must dash ..... but I'll be back soon!


Saturday, 6 November 2010

Christmas-Crafty Give-Away


I'm so excited!   I've managed to book myself on a workshop with Julie Arkell, woohoo!  You can see some of her work on the Loop website and on Ticking Stripes blog.   The workshop is at Hope and Elvis in Nottinghamshire, which isn't exactly on my doorstep, but it's so reasonably priced that it's worth the little trip.   It's not until next March - too soon to start counting how many more sleeps.  So, to keep me from swooning with impatience, I decided to try and make myself one of the kind of brooches that I saw on some of the workshop photographs.  I gather it's inspired by some 1940's brooches that are in the Imperial War Museum.    There's a real make-do-and-mend/clothing-coupons feel  to them.     And to stay in keeping with that, I just used thrifted bits and bobs in my own version, which I think is quite pretty.

So, ta-da ..........  the giveaway.   I decided that although the linen set is rather lovely (and aromatherapeutic!) I ought to do a more colourful collection too.  (Especially as I'm joining in on Silverpebble's Splash of Colour to brighten up the winter - just click the pic in my sidebar to see all the cheery photos.)

The linen lot is made up of a sack of cinnamon bark chips with a wooden heart and cinnamon stick tied at the top; a luggage label dangly calendar with a stamped wren decoration; and a padded heart with hand-embroidered snowflakes, hanging on a hessian string.

The birdie & bobbles collection is a long garland (about 52") of hand-felted merino wool bobbles; a padded birdie on a string with its own felt bobble; and a matching luggage label dangly calendar.

If you would like to enter the give-away, please just leave me a comment telling me which you would prefer - Linen & Cinnamon or Birdie & Bobbles.    I'll do a random number draw on Friday 12th November and announce the winner that day.  

Big thank you to everyone who kindly pops in to read my blog - I do hope you'll feel free to enter the giveaway, even if you don't normally leave a comment.   I love Lurkers!!!Don't be shy - the more the merrier!  

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Chrissie x

Saturday, 30 October 2010

'Slightly wrinkled' and plans for a Give-Away

When my baby kilner jars were delivered from The Jam Jar Shop the box was stuffed with sheets of slightly wrinkled sturdy brown wrapping paper which I just could not bring myself to put in the recycling bin.    There's something about the not-shiny side of the paper that really floats my boat.   (I don't get out much.)   After a wee bit of pondering over a cup of tea and a crunchy/chewy Ikea biscuit, I decided that all this yardage of brown wrapping could be turned into paper bags for my craft fairs.   After absolutely no pondering whatsoever I also decided that 'slightly wrinkled' only added to the handmade aura, so no point ironing it flat.  HAHAHA, me, ironing!!!
The lovely little wren stamp is from the rubber stamp gallery

Quick whizz up both sides on the sewing machine, trim the edges (tried with the pinking shears but it looked too twee and anyway using pinking shears hurts my thumb), and stamp with a pretty birdie and soon had a big pile of paper bags ready for the hordes of buyers who will be flocking to my craft stalls at the end of November.   They will ....won't they?

linen lavender bags by me. 
sweet tape from petits details on Etsy

linen cinnamon sacks
full of heavenly-scented cinnamon bark chips

big luggage tags covered in pale linen
all ready for the New Year

Look out for my next posting:  I'm planning to have a give-away of a little seasonal collection of the things I've made for the Christmas Bazaars.

Hope you're all having a good weekend!


Friday, 15 October 2010

Fairies at the bottom of my garden


Thank you to everyone who had a stab at working out what on earth the heading of my last post meant!   And specially to those who came up with other versions and brought back memories from schooldays  - it's reassuring that I'm not the only one whose upbringing seems to have been seasoned with nonsense.  
When not hunched over my sewing table working on the craft fair production line, I have tried to take some time noticing what's happening in the garden.   I'm elevating that from the reality of it simply being avoidance tactics, I know.
There are so many berries this year:  hips and haws, elderberries, ivy, sloes - am I to take it that this presages another cold and snowy winter?   There'll be plenty for the birds to eat if we do have lots of snow again.

I think there's something special about the Autumn season, particularly if we get some sunny days to appreciate the wonderful glowing colours.   Strange to think that a lot of them are as a result of the decaying process.
Something weird has been happening in the garden on the fungus front.   I'm hoping that this too isn't a sign of death and decay for our trees.   Some of the specimens we've seen have appeared overnight, several inches tall and I can't wait until I've got some time to read more about them.    In the meantime I've been taking photos (more distraction activity), ostensibly so that I can try and identify them later.  

Fascinating unbelievable delicacy.

 They do have a certain fairy-fascination, don't they?

Who lives deep in these dark woods?

OK, off to put my shoulder to the wheel and my nose to the grindstone, and other contortions unsuitable for a girl of my advancing years.   Just what tactics have you been employing to avoid those pressing jobs?  Go on, own up, don't make me feel bad!

                       Lots of love,