Author Archives: pennygj

Vanessa Cabban – a Tribute

Yesterday I was shocked and so saddened to hear of the tragic death on December 17th of Vanessa Cabban, a talented artist and illustrator who’s blog ‘Do you Mind if I Knit‘ was one of my inspirations when first began to write here on Planet Penny.

I’m sure many of you who visit here will have come across Vanessa’s blog, where she wrote so entertainingly about her adventures with yarn, her two wire haired dachshunds, Ellie and Douglas and also about her life and the beautiful area in which she lived.

We bonded over our mutual love of dachshunds and Vanessa was a big fan of Higgins.  Her colourful and funny children’s books were a big hit with my grandsons when they were small, and Vanessa’s papier mache sculptures are a joy to behold, so vibrant and full of joie de vivre.

Sadly, Vanessa’s marriage ended a couple of years ago and her work took a different direction.  Still beautiful, but quiet and reflective.  When we last corresponded she wrote of her determination to move on to a new era in her life, and I am so, so sad to realise that that life has now come to end.

Vanessa Cabban was hugely talented and although we never met in person she seemed a warm and lovely human being.  I cannot begin to think how her family and friends are feeling, or how they will come to terms with their tragic loss, but I know they will be in the hearts of many of us in the blogging world over Christmas and beyond.

Rest in Peace, dear Vanessa x



Tea Light Holders for the Cotton Traders Advent Calendar

Over the last couple of years I have created an Advent Countdown here on Planet Penny. However this year, along with other bloggers and makers, I have been invited to take part in the Cotton Traders Advent Calendar with a Christmas crafty make.

You’ll find the link on The Thread, the Cotton Traders Blog, Planet Penny appears on Day 12!


Nordic Houses

So, as I’ve always a soft spot for tiny houses, and as so much of the Christmas tradition is centred around home and family what better way to celebrate the festive season than with your own little hamlet of cosy cottages?


  • Card, suitable for printing, I used 160gsm.
  • PDF pattern
  • Scissors
  • Craft Knife
  • Cutting Mat
  • Glue stick
  • Battery operated tea lights


Print off the PDF of the house onto the card.  A whole village if you like!

Cut round the outline with scissors or craft knife.  Cutting out the windows is much more easily done with the craft knife.

Cut out a rectangle in card 15cm x 9cm for the roof. Mark the central point on the long edge on both sides and very lightly score across to mark the fold line for the ridge on the roof.  Fold.

Using the craft knife, very lightly score along the fold lines on the unprinted side of the card to help make the finished shape nice and crisp.

Fold along the score lines, glue the tabs and stick together and stick together into the house shape.

Then make some more!

I’ve only recently been converted to battery tealights because I love the natural light of candles.  However there is no denying the dangers of having flames all round the room especially with small children, and these little houses are great for a family crafting afternoon.

I like simple white for a touch of Nordic style, but print off a few sheets and let the children loose with paints and crayons, glue and glitter before cutting out for a riot of festive colour!

I hope you have fun with this and all the other crafty makes and seasonal recipes on the Cotton Traders Advent Calendar.  If you’d like to show off your own version, do send in your photos and I will share then here on the blog.

Happy crafting!

The Penguins Party!

I’m a bit obsessed with penguins at the moment!

I saw the John Lewis advert last week (the beginning of November for heaven’s sake, far too early…but adorable all the same!)

…and in a parallel universe I would definitely have a pet penguin, Higgins would love a little friend.

However, it got me thinking about making something a bit different this year for my stall at the Two Rivers Trail Festive Fair.  With that in mind I’ve made some needlefelt penguins and I thought I’d drop in here for some opinions…

So here’s my little Penguin Party…

needlefelt penguinsAnd the question is, do I or don’t I add little knitted scarves, and would they be better with or without a hanger for the tree?  I’ve thought about too much and need a second opinion! What you think?

And finally thank you you for the lovely comments after my last post.  It’s so good to know you enjoy calling in to Planet Penny.  Higgins, as always, is basking in the admiration of his fans (and really doesn’t want to play second fiddle to some silly penguins!)  Back soon…x

Habits…and Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That!

I’ve got to admit to lots of bad habits and trying to conquer them is a WIP, but the one habit I don’t want to lose is the Blogging one and things have slipped badly just lately.  I’ve dived in with one or two on a set subject, but when I look back to when I first started writing here I realise I miss just turning up for a chat!

The main reason for my absence has been the ongoing concern about my mum.  The problems started back in August and look set to continue for a while yet.  She is now in the local rehabilitation hospital and her ankle has healed, but physio is set to be long and slow as she’s been in bed for so long.  Added to this, there have been various administration errors which have added to her distress which I have now taken up with our MP so this has been quite time consuming.

And coming up, we have our Two Rivers Trail Festive Fair.  It’s in less than two weeks…eek!  It’s the only fair I do these days.  I usually sell as I make rather than having a stall full of wares, so preparation takes a bit of time.

Two Rivers Trail Festive Fair

You can find out about the fair and the other artists taking part on the Two Rivers Trail website.  Last year’s fair, our first, was a huge success and took us quite by surprise!  This year we have a special guest  the well known author, TV presenter and explorer, Nick Crane from BBC’s ‘Coast’ opening the Fair, so if you happen to be in the area do come along.  It’s promising to be a great day out.

And Higgins!  I know there are some of you who like to find out about Higgins, and he is on fine form.

A bit fed up with the weather…

mini dachshund in red coat

…so he has decided that all watchdog activites should be conducted from the comfort of his own armchair…


…when he’s not on bed testing duties…

2014-10-29 14.10.42

Planet Penny was always meant to be my happy place, and right now a happy place is where I need to be so I intend to be here more often.  I’ll certainly be along  with my fair preparations, the felting needle is red hot already!

I’ll see you very soon…x


Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine – A Review

Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine

It’s always exciting to receive a parcel in the post, and when a copy of the brand new Simple Stylish Knitting magazine arrived in the post for me to review, along with some gorgeous yarn, I was very happy indeeed!

I’ve been knitting on and off since I was a child, and it’s definitely like riding a bike, once you’ve learned the skill you never really lose it. People often say to me, ‘Ooh, I’d love to learn to knit’, but unfortunately, I can’t teach everyone!

So I’m always interested to see what there is about to set aspiring knitters off on the right track, and this new partwork, the Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine has really clear instructions covering all the basics.  And because each issue has the yarn and pattern to make a sample square in a new stitch every week, not only do you have everything you need to start straight away, by the time you’ve collected all the issues you’ve got a gorgeous patchwork blanket.

And, of course by then you’ll be an expert knitter!

I was also sent some lovely Rowan yarn to make the Mr Fox iPad Mini case…

Mr Fox iPad Casr from Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine

…and it’s here I have to confess to being completely useless at something which is supposed to be really easy.  Is it just me?  I’m rubbish at Swiss darning, or duplicate stitch.  I wouldn’t have been fazed in the slightest by knitting the fox head using the Intarsia method, but I made really heavy weather of stitching it on.   So despite my knitting credentials, I need to practice this one!

The magazine has three projects each week along the themes of Knits for Home, Knits to Wear and Knits to Give with some gorgeous patterns to look forward to…

Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine projects

…and from 20th October to 20th November Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine have asked me to curate their Knits for Home Pinterest Board, (which is basically permission to have fun, isn’t it?)  Do call over and have a peek, and follow too if you like what you see.

Follow Simple Stylish Knitting’s board Knits For Home on Pinterest.

I know the magazine is available in selected areas at the moment, but if you want to make sure you get every issue and the binders to keep them in then it’s easy to get a subscription from the Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine website.

Simple Stylish Knitting Magazine free yarnFinally, hello and welcome to all the new blog followers.  It’s been a bit quiet round here lately but I’m looking forward to being back here more often and keeping you up to date with my little woolly world!

See you soon…x

Crochet Heart Bunting for Little Hearts Matter

Today I am sharing a new Planet Penny pattern for Crochet Heart Bunting to help raise awareness of the Little Hearts Matter Charity.

This is a great charity which raises funds and awareness for children born with only half a heart, something I admit I knew nothing about before. During the month of October there is a lot going on with the theme ‘Handmade Hearts’ and you can find out all about it on the Little Hearts Matter website.

I’ve made my bunting using the Planet Penny Colours range which is perfect for this pattern, but it’s also a great stash buster. If you’ve made a pretty baby blanket as a pressie, coordinated bunting for the nursery would be a lovely little added extra.

Planet Penny Crochet Heart Bunting

The pattern is available here as a FREE downloadable PDF ,however if you use and like the pattern it would be great if you could visit the Little Hearts Matter website and make a donation to help these amazing and brave youngsters.

Crochet Heat Bunting made from Planet Penny Cotton Colours

I hope you have a lovely weekend, and if you decide to make the Crochet Heart Bunting I’d love to hear about it!

See you soon…x


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