Malamander and the Lost and Founder Cap

Waterstones Childrens' Book of the Month for May - Malamander

If you’ve been in a branch of Waterstones this month and seen the book displays, you may well have seen the distinctive turquoise and yellow colours of May’s Book of the Month, ‘Malamander’.

Malamander - the book
Note the on brand nail art!

(If you are wondering why I’m writing about this, I must declare an interest, as Thomas is my son!)

The other reason I am writing about this is as a warning to crafty parents or grandparents. You know that thing when the kids come home from school and announce, ‘It’s world book day, I want to be dressed as a tiger, caterpillar, Pippi Longstocking’…(fill in as appropriate) or’ I’m in the school play, I’m Henry VIII, I said you could make the costume’? It doesn’t stop when they leave school.

My son is quite grown up now…

Thomas and Eerie-on-Sea map

…but I still got the ‘Muu-uum, I wonder if you could make…please?’! Which is how I came to make a Lost and Founder Cap for Herbert Lemon.

Herbie is one of the main characters in Malamander, and is the Lost and Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel in Eerie-on-Sea, and obviously he needs a cap to show how important he is.

So, of course I could make one… (typical me, say yes first, work out how later)

Firstly, I had to find some Royal Porpoise Blue fabric. (You haven’t heard of Royal Porpoise Blue? Neither had I) After a spot of trial and error and messages back and forth I found a colour which met with Thomas’ approval, and ordered a metre. I thought that was overkill, but more of that later…

Amazing what you can do with a cornflake packet…

The making of the Malamander hat

I rely heavily on serendipity when I’m working, Little did I know when I fitted a new cover on the ironing board two days before that the offcuts of wadding were exactly what I needed to line the inside before stitching in a pale gold lining.

Thomas sourced the gold braid…

Lost & Founder cap - Malamander

…and then was just the problem of the badges of office. We found brass letters which were just the right size, and I bought an ammonite pin in pewter which I covered with gold leaf.

The only thing left to find was the right gold elastic to go under Herbie’s chin – this is a source of much irritation to him during his adventures. After much discussion we found the perfect solution on Ebay…BRA STRAPS! ( but don’t tell anyone!)

Herbert Lemon in the Lost & Founder cap

So the cap went off to the book launch in London…

Childrens' Story Centre

where it was a big hit with the youngsters…

Small Herbert Lemon in Lost & Founder Cap

The only problem now is that Thomas is off doing lots of events with children at book shops and schools and ALL the children want to try on the cap. It’s already looking a slightly the worse for wear…so…

Just as well I bought all that fabric. I’m off to eat more cornflakes!

Map of Eerie on Sea
To find out more about Herbert Lemon, Violet Parma and the unctuous Malamander, click on the map to visit Eerie on Sea

An Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop

Last Saturday saw me, apron and hairdryer in hand, heading off into Norwich to Stubenhocker for a spot of paint and colour therapy. I have a steadily growing list of pieces of furniture that I want to paint, from flower pots, working through to chairs and culminating with my biggest challenge, the dresser.

I’m a big fan of Annie Sloan, and have one of her books, as well a couple of her gorgeously inspiring Colourist magazines but there’s nothing like playing around paint and brushes in the company of an expert to get the feel of the medium and inspire ideas.

The bonus was the venue, a fabulous shop full of wonderful home accessories and furniture. Much of the furniture show cased examples of the sort of paint effects we were trying to achieve so I, and my other two fellow students were very inspired.

The last time I painted furniture and played around with paint effects I was using emulsion paint and candle wax so I was really impressed with the way the paint is SO quick to dry, and covers practically anything with one coat. Perfect for an impatient person like me who wants to have a piece painted, waxed, in the room with a vase of flowers on it that same day (and very possible a pot of tea and slice of cake too!)

I now have a selection of paints, and lots of ideas.

I’m on a mission now. Planet Penny has been in the doldrums for too long, for reasons which I won’t bore you with. I want to get back to my blogging roots, creating every day and writing about it. It could be painting or gardening, baking or textiles, or hunting out inspiration in workshops, books, websites or magazines that I can share with you, my online friends.

I’m looking forward to it, I do hope you’ll join me…x

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

So currently this is my view from my desk…overlooking the new terrace and the place where the lawn would be if only it would stop raining!  Is it the same where you are?  Are you in hibernation mode too?

This isn’t the only reason I’ve been a bit quiet, I’m nursing a shiny new knee!  It’s also a bit hurty (as my smallest grandchildren would say) so I’ve done rather a lot of nursing it (and bending and stretching and wincing).  But today it’s perfectly comfortable to sit at my desk, ideally positioned to look out at the rain and the mud (and the cowslips which have escaped and taken over the old bit of lawn).

In my last post I was getting set up for two needlefelt workshops at the Forum, Norwich for Makers Month.  These went SO well, and it was lovely to have a workshop full of enthusiastic students and lots of interest from people passing by.  

And the exhibition for Makers Month was amazing too.  Who’d have thought you knit and crochet the Queen?  And that’s ALL of it, including the face and hands…incredible.There was also the most wonderful garden, all made with knitting and crochet…And also…NUDIE KNITS!  (Please don’t look at this if you are of a sensitive nature, there are naked knitted people featured!)

I have another workshop coming up on 26th May in my home village on the Norfolk Broads.  If you are outside the area this is an ideal opportunity to have a long weekend exploring Norfolk, the Broads and the beautiful city of Norwich around a morning’s workshop making your own beautiful needlefelt notebook.

More details to follow, but do get in touch if you are interested in knowing more, I’m happy to chat.

So, the rain is still falling, and don’t think Higgins is going for a walk anytime soon…!We’ll just have to wait it out until the sun comes back…See you soon…x


Needlefelt Workshops at the Forum’s Makers’ Month

Needlefelt workshopsThe needlefelt workshops are back!  This spring I will be at The Forum in Norwich running two workshops as part of Makers Month.  If you haven’t been before this is a wonderful opportunity to see and try out lots of different crafts for free, as well as book on to some fabulous workshops to learn a new skill in depth and there are fascinating talks and open exhibitions.

Arts and crafts people from across Norfolk, will be at the Forum to show you how to knit, sew, crochet, spin, weave, print, embroider, quilt, draw, paint, sculpt and even whittle.  Entrance is free, and everyone is welcome.  I’m really looking forward to it!

So if you would like to join me on a Needlefelt Workshop, do get in touch to book.  There’s a choice of two, making a 3D sculpture from unspun fleece, or a decorative panel of fleece worked into wool felt.  Each workshop will give you the skills to take needlefelting in a different creative direction.  Book both for a 10% discount on the price.

I’d love to see you there…x

Beating the Winter Blues

Winter Blues… If you’ve been following Planet Penny for a while you will know I get very grumpy about the winter months, and I know I’m not alone.  For me, it’s not the cold, or even the wet it’s the days of unrelenting gloom.  This winter, in my corner of the UK, it seems to have been particularly wet and gloomy.  And don’t even get me started on the mud!  After all the building work it’s also encroached into the garden which is a sad shadow of it’s former self.  The big new window which is going to be so lovely in the summer months gets splattered every time it rains, added to which there are paw prints from next door’s cat.  She likes nothing better than to stand up and pat the glass by Higgins’ nose while he goes off into paroxysms of rage the other side of the glass!  However, I digress…

This year, one of my challenges has been to try to work through the gloom and not let it get me as low as the last couple of winters, which were a real struggle.  When I’ve been for a walk with Higgins, I’ve consciously tried to lift my gaze above the mud, to embrace the feeling that beneath the bare branches of the trees, inside the twiggy hedgerows new life is humming, just waiting for the longer days and spring warmth to burst forth.  I love the smell of the newly turned earth in the fields, as the tractors churn up and down, trailing screaming gulls in their wake, and the clean straight furrows waiting for the first spikes of green.

I went out hunting the other day, to find and capture the colours and textures of January, and this is what I discovered…

Norfolk Winter walkwinter brackenwinter cobweblichenwiner holly lichen in winterwinter leaffeatherwinter viewSometimes we have sunrises like this…winter vapour trailsand sunsets too…winter sunset…and there is always my little friend!higgins the dachshundSo, how do you cope with the Winter Blues?  Or do you love the winter months?  I’d love to know.

I’ll be back very soon…x



A Word for 2018 – CHALLENGE!

Hello, my lovelies, I hope you have had a wonderful, fabulous Christmas.  I have to say I think this one for me has been one of the best ever, so I want to take that forward into the next year.  I have been mulling over my word for 2018 for several days, and it presented itself to me about twenty minutes ago whilst I was peeling potatoes!


this is what I have to do to myself on a daily basis with lots of things. M.E. doesn’t make life easy.  But there are other challenges I can rise to which might well make a difference.  I love this quote…

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
 Henry Ford

So I’m going to challenge myself to change things.  One of those challenges is going to be fighting the perfectionism which has stopped me writing my blog, posting on Instagram and quite a few other things which I’ll write about in days to come.

Do you have a word for the coming year?

I’ll be back soon, but in the meantime…



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