Author Archives: pennygj

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!

CHALLENGE…

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…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

A Weekend of Dyeing and Weaving with Aviva Leigh

natural dyesLast weekend I went off to reboot my creative vibe, which has been languishing under a layer of brick dust for far too long!  I trotted along to the Norwich studio of Aviva Leigh to spend an inspirational day dyeing with natural dyes to transform a variety of yarns,  followed by a day of mastering a knitter’s loom to create a piece of woven cloth.

We were fortunate that it was a small group, just the three of us in our rubber gloves and pinnies, oohing and aahing as Aviva introduced us to the magic of dyeing with plant leaves, woodchips, pomegranate skins and even crushed beetles! yarn for dyeing - Aviva Leighdye baths - Aviva LeighAviva Leighcrushed beetles - natural dye - cochinealIn my mind natural dyes were soft and subtle, but it’s astonishing how vibrant some of the colours are.dyed wool - Aviva Leigh workshopIt’s also interesting to realise that the building in which  Aviva has her studio is in the heart of the historic textile area of Norwich where the river used to run red with the waste from the dyeing factories.

By the end of the first day our heads were spinning with information!  So much to take in about the history, the geography and chemistry of natural dyes.  Aviva assured us that the following day would be relaxing and mindful, leaving the steamy atmosphere of the dyeing studio to weave our wool samples into cloth.indigo and pomegranate - natural dyesThere were just two of us the next day and it’s a very small world because we discovered that my fellow student follows Planet Penny – so, Hello Tracy!! We had a wonderful day experimenting with colours and textures and different effects.weaving workshop with Aviva Leigh  So much so that we both headed home having bought our looms, despite both of us saying the last thing we need is yet another craft.  It’s just so addictive.weaving workshop with Aviva LeighAutumn weavingI’m itching to get my loom ready for some more experiments but I will have to wait until I have fewer builders in the house.  Today there are four, it feels a bit like DIY SOS! But we really are on the home straight now, despite the fact that we’ve just discovered the new back door fits the aperture, but won’t actually open…ho hum…

I’ll be back soon…x

 

All Change at Planet Penny

Hello again… I know, another long pause, but I do have an excuse. We’ve been doing a Grand Design. Well, it wasn’t meant to be, we started out deciding we needed an extension and somehow it grew. It’s been going on since the middle of June and now we are actually in the last stages I feel I have enough space in my head to tackle a blog post and catch up with you all.

Creativity has been non existent, I’m longing to get it back. Every room in the house (and my studio) has been affected, and the contents of the ground floor is in a container on the drive. But today, after being without a kitchen for six weeks, the worktop has been fitted, and it’s so beautiful. It was the one big extravagance, black quartz with tiny shards of reflective crystals which glitter when you move. I feel like the room has been sprinkled with stardust (sorry, just a teensy bit carried away there but if anything needs stardust it’s a planet!)

So today, for the first time for ages, I feel like I can start heading back to normality. Part of that is giving the PP website a bit of a makeover to match what has been happening at home. There is still some pretty yarn left in the Etsy shop and all the patterns but I need to decide on a new direction and I hope you will come with me.

There will definitely be knitting and crochet, some sewing and stitching, I can’t wait to get in the sparkly kitchen and share some recipes, I’m rather into interiors at the moment as you can imagine, and there is still Higgins of course!

And, if you can bear me to mention the ‘C’ word just now, there are preparations to make. The reason we decided to enlarge our house rather than downsize is to be able to have all our offspring plus their families to visit at the same time without bursting at the seams, and this Christmas will be it. I’m very excited!

If you are curious about what has been going on, here’s a little video which will give you some idea. I can’t wait to be able to give you an update…


See you soon…x

A Loooong Pause…

Oh, I’m sorry!  I dropped off the radar again.  It’s all been a bit of a muddle here over the past weeks.  I dived into Monty Don mode with the arrival of the wonderful greenhouse, and then the builders arrived.

We are having an extension built.  A lot of my front garden has been scooped up and taken away, and in it’s place cement has been poured, and there are walls growing.  We haven’t even got to the place where the existing walls come down…

eeeek! *repeat to self ‘it will be lovely when it done, it will be lovely when it’s done…*

It flung me into a bit of a mental block and I’ve been finding it REALLY hard to pick up my blogging reins again.  However, I’ve given myself a virtual ‘boot up the bum’…Just Do it….and here I am!

I have no excuse really because last month I had a wonderful day at Blogtacular listening to and learning from some really inspirational speakers. People like life coach Natalie Lue,  the writer Greta Solomon, the blogger, broadcaster and author Emma Gannon,  and Catherine Dean, Editor of Mollie Makes.  And these are just the ones I got to see!  Add in the chance to meet up with lots of like minded people and eat delicious food and it was a really inspiring day.  I will certainly be looking to go again next year if I can, who knows, I might meet some of you there!

(If you look very closely you’ll see me, marked with an arrow and under a white balloon! Blogtacular-2017-©-Amber-Rose-PhotographySo I must get my act together now I’ve dived back in.  In the meantime, there is one lucky winner of the Mollie Makes Comic Relief Magazine, P Collingwood.  Congratulations!

I really will be back very soon, promise!  See you then…x

The Merry Month of May

Merry Month of MayMay is my favourite month, full of promise and optimism.  Here in Norfolk the hedgerows are bursting with new leaves and blossom and it won’t be long before the verges are frothy with Queen Anne’s Lace.

Here, in the corner of a field where Planet Penny orbits, there’s a lot going on.  Next month the builders move in to build an extension, which will be wonderful when it is done, and a complete nightmare while it’s underway!  I’m having a little practice today; as I type I have a man in my garden building a greenhouse.  So far I have only had to make one coffee, one tea and one trip to the builders merchants.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about it though.  We live in such a windy spot and so far we’ve had three mini greenhouses and two rotary washing lines mangled by the wind, and the second hand greenhouse I was given was folded flat by Storm Doris before we even got the glass in.

This time my darling OH said we’re getting a really strong one and so what’s going up is one of theseRhino Greenhouse…which as it has been very rudely pointed out to me, I can sit on during the next storm to keep it in place!

So watch out for me putting on my Alys Fowler hat and getting excited about growing things, whilst also doing all sorts of styling with bunting and fairy lights (which is the bit the dear OH is most worried about)

So, talking about flowers, I’ve currently had a bit of an obsession with making paper ones.  What started me off was Mollie Makes’ The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon and  Lia Griffiths tutorial on making paper peonies.  Frankly, it’s not the best obsession for me…all that scissor work really annoys my cranky thumb joint…but I just can’t help it.  An evening spent catching up on TV whilst cutting out the petals, off to bed after rubbing ibuprofen gel on said joint and then a joyful hour the next day with the glue gun and wire making a gorgeous bloom.I’m now eagerly awaiting a delivery of nicer crepe paper, finer and more subtle in colour so watch this space.crepe paper flowerThe magazine has sold out now, but I have a spare copy which I would love to pass on to one of you lovelies out there…big comic relief crafternoon…so just leave a comment and next week I will put all the names into a virtual hat Random Number Generator to find a winner. An opportunity to have a sore thumb just like me, and fill your home with paper flowers. Or to be more sensible and chill out in a pompom beard!

I’ll be back before then though, I have another project to share.

See you soon…x

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