Category Archives: Craft

It really is the Blog Hop!

As promised, and alas somewhat belatedly, I’m carrying on the Blog Hop from Claire of Mrs Brown Makes.  Being asked particular questions really concentrates the mind, none of my usual waffling!

So here goes…

What am I working on?

This is a hard one because I’m a butterfly brain by nature, and I’ve always got a bit of a conflict going on between all the things I want to do.  At the moment I know I really need to work on some new ideas for the Planet Penny cotton yarn to add interest to my Etsy shop, but I’m also planning a fresh project for my next needlefelt workshop.  I’m also in charge of social media and the website for our local community shop…, and the window displays. Oh, and I’m also designing leaflets and flyers for Arts Desire, which is where I hold needlefelt workshops.  And there’s a book review…   Hmm, sometimes I feel I need to clone myself!

So the latest pattern for the cottons is for a hat and bag based on the granny square…

Granny square hat and bag in Planet Penny Cotton Colours

And the experiments in flat needlefelt and embroidery will culminate in a workshop on making a sketchbook cover…

needlefelt felt flowers for workshop

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Gosh, that’s a hard one.  We all like to imagine we are unique, don’t we and then when you do compare yourself to someone else, it’s generally unfavourable!  I suppose with the cotton and the patterns I accidently struck a chord somewhere.  People love rainbows, and managing to source the yarn and colours that people love was serendipitous.  The Rainbow mice too.

Rainbow mice knitted in Planet Penny Cotton Colours

I’m not very good at being serious, (it got me into a lot of trouble when I was at school) and the things I create generally end up making people smile.  When I was at Art School I was told I would ‘grow out’ of wanting to make happy stuff, I’m so glad I didn’t!

With needlefelting I do compare myself with others.  There are some amazing artists out there who make wonderfully realistic things with needlefelt and if I think about it too much I feel rather inadequate. However, I don’t actually want to make things like that myself!  I do love the process, I like turning soft fluff into firm sculpture.  When people talk to me about what I do during Open Studios the main emotions seem to be surprise… and laughter.  Nothing wrong with that!

This is the Green Man I created for this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios and you can see how he came into being on the Two Rivers Trail Blog...

Needlefelt sculpture - Green Man - English Folklore
Why do I write/create what I do?

Well, I create because I’m alive, it’s just part of me.  I’ve done it since I was old enough to hold a crayon, snip with scissors.  And as for writing, I started writing the blog when I was at a low ebb and writing about what I was doing meant I had to do something to write about.  (It was very good therapy, I recommend it!)  Now it’s second nature and it really bothers me when life gets in the way and time passes and I haven’t written anything.  And I love being part of the Blogosphere with all the interaction with the rest of the World Wide Web.

How does your writing/creating process work?

Because I’ve been writing the blog for so long I have a sort of virtual filing cabinet in the back of my head where things to write about are noted and kept, and I usually have my camera or phone with me so I can capture images which inspire me to write. I don’t usually struggle to find material to use for a blog post, it’s more the other way around, there so much stuff stored in there I can’t decide what to write about first!

As for creating, it’s really hard to say.  Sometimes when I’m needlefelting things sort of arrive when I’m not expecting them, I suppose my subconscious is working out what’s going on  because it doesn’t trust the conscious me to get it right!

And now to send you hopping off in another direction…

First up is Gina, a very talented lady who writes the ‘Fan My Flame’ blog.  You might remember the beautiful little Alice in Wonderland I bought from Gina a couple of years ago…

Alice-in-Wonderland

Gina describes herself as ‘a textile artist, machine embroiderer, teacher, passionate baker and blogger’, which is very modest considering all she does.  You’ll find out when you visit ‘Fan My Flame’, I recommend it!

Secondly is Sue, aka Mrs Micawber…

“My name is Sue Perez – alias Mrs. Micawber – and I live and crochet in Wisconsin. When not crocheting, I read, blog, cycle, take photos when cycling (for the blog), cook, and occasionally clean the house. In winter I walk (though not as often as I ought), and grumble about the weather. I’ve been known to knit, sew, bead, and quilt, but crochet is far and away my favourite craft. These agreeable activities are financed by a job outside the home, but why talk about work when there are so many more pleasant things to discuss? :)

My blog, Mr. Micawber’s Recipe for Happiness, was started to while away the time when my work hours were severely cut. Through blogging, I’ve made friends all around the world, and now I can’t imagine life without it.”

Sue writes the most beautiful crochet patterns, again, well worth a visit!

I hope you enjoy hopping about in Blogland.  It’s worth working backwards too if you are looking for interesting new crafty blogs to follow…

And I’ll be back soon…x 

A Crafty Weekend…

It’s all quiet here now, but last weekend I had my two grandsons to stay and it was a madhouse!  It was very fortunate that I had on hand a selection of crafty bits and pieces from Baker Ross for us to have fun with, little kids and big kids alike. We had lots of fun with the Super Clay, what a long way we’ve come since my primary school days and the boring greyish brown lump that came out on Plasticine days! Super Clay - Baker Ross One unexpected thing we discovered was how well it bounced!  (These are things you find out when you have small boys around, don’t you?) Benjy,  with a little help from Daddy, produced this jolly chap… Super Clay Man - Baker RossI made a little flower… Super Clay flower - Baker Ross…and there was no holding my son back once he got started, we got another Higgins… Super Clay Dachshund - Baker RossHe gives us that look when we don’t share our biscuits! Higgins - Super Clay - Baker RossAnd I found this strange little chap peering at me out of the cups and saucers… Super Clay Head - Thomas TaylorThe clay air dries in 24 hours so it’s ideal for children to use to make little presents.  (I think I’ve solved the next birthday present conundrum, and that’s for my grown-up son!) The Porcelain Paint Pens were really useful too.  I’ve had a couple of plain white mugs for a while now, bought specifically for decorating in some way. porcelain paints - Baker RossOnce you’ve created the design the paint is baked on and becomes dishwasher safe. Mug with dachshund mug with flowersOne for morning coffee, and the other for afternoon tea! Baker Ross was also where I saved myself from disappearing under a mountain of unboxed matches when I got carried away by this project the other day. So much easier to buy empty matchboxes by the bag! Covered Matchboxes   For those of you who have been wondering how I’ve been getting on with the Green Man, he’s finished, and this morning I delivered him to the Forum in Norwich for the Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios Taster Exhibition which runs from Friday 18th to Wednesday 23rd April.   I’ve written a post about the making of him for our Two Rivers Trail Blog so you can find out the details by following this link. While I’ve been typing I have had a very fidgety little dog round my feet, reminding me about walkies.  It’s been lovely here the past few days so I’d better get out and wear off some of his energy… WalkiesWishing you all a peaceful, happy sun-filled Easter..I’ll be back soon…x

Needlefelt Workshops and a Present for Higgins

Feather and Needlefelt birds

You’ll remember I’m sure, that last year I went to Art’s Desire in Norwich to teach some Needlefelt Workshops. I fell in love with the shop then, and the whole idea of the Craft Lounge being a venue for people to come to learn to knit, crochet, felt and more.

The exciting news is that it’s re-locating in a lovely old cobblers shop just out of Norwich City Centre and will be opening in a few weeks.  I love a renovation project and when I called in a few weeks ago it was just at the point when you see what a great space it will be for the shop, it’s tempting goodies and the crafting area.

Kay, the owner, came to tea last week for a catch up and planning session and being a dog lover arrived with a special present for Higgins.  (Tongue firmly in cheek, I may say!)

This is it, in the ‘bosses’ chair…2014-04-03 10.37.36And this is what happened…

Mini Dachsund fights cushion It didn’t work…

daschund fights cushion and winsHowever, we had more success sorting out a workshop date, thank goodness!

And it is on…

June 14th 2014, from 10.30 – 1pm and price is £25.00 which will include materials,

and the venue is 82, Park Lane, Norwich, NR2 3EL

Arts Desire NorwichPlease contact Kay via the Arts Desire website or me via the Planet Penny contact page if you are interested, it would be lovely to see you.

And talking of needlefelt, I am finishing off the Green Man, just in time. He goes off to the Forum next week for the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios Taster Exhibition.  I can’t believe it’s come round so quickly!  I’ll post a picture when I’ve added the finishing touches.

Be back soon…x

Inspiration, and Going With The Flow

Inspiration tags

Anyone who has been visiting Planet Penny for a while will know I sometimes struggle with inspiration, as I’m sure we all do from time to time.  I thought I’d share some of the thought processes which have wombled through my head over the past weeks.  From my point of view it might just help to put it down in writing to come back to when I next get stuck.  Or it might just reveal to the world the scarily weird contents of my brain!  Who knows?

Anyway, I know it all began with the disaster zone which was my studio.  I was struggling to make anything because every time I needed something specific I wasted half a day looking for it and getting cross, with myself and everything else.  And while I was making excuses to myself about how I didn’t have the time to tidy the studio because there was so much else to do, I wasn’t doing any of the stuff – because the studio needed tidying!

Add starting the New Year with losing poor old Henry, and then the fun and games with the fire…need I go on?

So gradually I got to grips with the chaos.  And started looking at the sheer amount of things I have got squirrelled away which rarely if ever see the light of day.  And that’s where the idea of sharing some of this treasure via the Box of Delights came into being. Sliding off on a tangent from this we come to the stack of magazines.  I know I got bogged down by the feeling that you have to buy the magazine that everyone else is reading to keep up with what is going on but there is so much out there now and I realised that Mollie Makes just wasn’t pushing my buttons any longer.  It’s the magazine I would have loved when I was in my 20s and 30s,  but that was then. So, in the market for something completely different via a series of happy accidents (all my best things seem to arrive via a happy accident!) I discovered Flow Magazine. Now Flow is published in the Netherlands but produces an International version in English four times a year.  I loved the look of the Paper edition, such a pretty cover… Flow Magazine - Paper Edition …and was very excited when it arrived.(Ed to add: it may be out of stock but it’s worth contacting Flow via the website to see if it will be reprinted)   It’s full of postcards, envelopes, wrapping paper, gifttags, pop-up landscapes, paper bunting and lots more. It was this little project which took me off in another direction…Matchbox covers from Flow Magazine

Matchbox cover Flow MagazinePaper Edition

…covering and lining matchboxes.  The projects in the book started me off although I had to be a bit inventive as Dutch matchboxes are a slightly different size to UK ones.  Once I’d made my own template I was off.  (We have so many loose matches in our house now I think I’ve become a fire risk again but I’ve now bought a supply of blank boxes!)

I now have a tray filled with the wherewithal to create a little box whenever I have a pause in whatever else is going on, or a sticky patch in the creative flow.  And not only does it ease me through the stickiness but I have yet another little box…

covered matchmoxes

covered match boxes - Flow Magazine

…which is perfect for filling with a miniature selection of little treasures for the promised runners up prizes for the Box of Delights giveaway.

This is just a snapshot of what has been going on, very often the contents of my brain are as chaotic as the studio was, but like the studio, it pays to tidy up!

I’m very behind with my blog posts (I’m blaming our awful internet connection amongst other things) so I hope to be back very soon to catch up.  I have an important announcement about the Planet Penny Cotton Colours amongst other things, so…

See you soon…x

Missing Mojo – Found!

You might remember me bemoaning the loss of my Mojo in this post, the debilitating feeling when inspiration disappears out of the window.

Well, I’m happy to relate that it’s back and I’m beavering away being creative and even the wind and rain whipping past the window and howling down the chimney hasn’t dampened my spirits today!

I realise that I’ve become bogged down, especially with Social Media.  When I started writing this blog I had no idea about SEO, I didn’t have a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, a featured board on Pinterest, an Instagram account, Flickr.  I wasn’t helping other people with their Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, websites….

Add that to the Etsy shop, packing yarn, writing patterns, answering queries as well as family commitments and actually having a life… the part of me which I discovered and which grew when I was at Art School only a few years ago was in danger of withering away altogether.

Being part of Open Studios over the past few years has kept me hanging on by my fingernails though, and I’ve loved making the exhibition pieces…

BirdsonaBranch

Wool Gathering 2012

'How to Knit a Sheep' NNOS 2013

How to Knit a Sheep 2013

That time of year is coming round again (so quickly!) and I’ve been rummaging around in my mind for the perfect inspiration.  For ages after making the sheep’s head, I toyed with the idea of a stag’s head complete with antlers.  The perfect place to hang crochet garlands and pompoms!  But then I realised that every time I opened a catalogue or magazine, or watched a design programme on television there seemed to be some sort of variation of a stag’s head, a rhino, a zebra or similar and I knew the moment had passed.

There are also restrictions for the exhibition too.  I work in three dimensions but making something which needs a plinth, and finding the plinth too is an added complication, so the hanging format I’ve used so far works best.

Inspiration struck a couple of weeks ago because of our local pantomime.  The Am-Dram group in the village is full of creative people and we’re lucky to have someone to devise something beyond the usual Sleeping Beauty/Aladdin/Puss in Boots offerings.  This year it was The Green Man.

Green Man Panto

Aha! the Green Man! And with some research I find this quote

His name means the Green One or Verdant One, he is the voice of inspiration to the aspirant and committed artist.

He can come as a white light or the gleam on a blade of grass, but more often as an inner mood.

The sign of his presence is the ability to work or experience with tireless enthusiasm beyond one’s normal capacities. In this there may be a link across cultures,… one reason for the enthusiasm of the medieval sculptors for the Green Man may be that he was the source of inspiration.”

Perfect!

I’ve sorted through my stash of fleece and yarns, filled a bag with natural colours and ordered some more from Wingham Wool Work.  I also bought a sample pack of dyes and that’s what I’ve been doing most of today, dying natural fleece and yarn, and over-dyeing some bright shades to bring them into the right colour spectrum.

Landscape Dyes Wingham Wool Works

I’ve had such FUN! I’ve looked back in the archives and it was January 2011 when I last dyed yarn and I loved the results then.  This is a very different palette, but I’m so enjoying throwing caution to the winds, and mixing up different dyes, and different strengths and dribbling them over the wool to get soft natural effects.

Landscape Dyes

My Green Man has been inspired by the cherry trees in the garden with their grey trunks.  His face is bark coloured using natural Cheviot fleece, rougher and hairier than my usual Merino, and lovely to needlefelt.  This is the story so far…

The Green Man - work in progressJust waiting for the greenery to grow!

The greenery is too damp to use tonight so I will put my crochet ‘Hat’ on as I want to finally finish the bunting pattern which I’ve been editing.  It’s looking very pretty…Crochet Beaded Bunting - Planet Penny Yarn

 I’m off to clean up the dye splatters in the utility room, but I’ll be back soon!

 

 

Little Shoes for Little People

Felt Baby Shoes

purlbee.com

There’s something about little shoes isn’t there?  I seem to have gathered a whole collection of patterns for teeny tiny shoes, and actually shoes are the last thing a small baby needs!

My own babies were born, like I was, with huge feet and were already too big for the infant sizes by the time they decided to get round to walking.  The tiny shoes I had been given when they were born ended up as ornaments!

So it’s probably a triumph of hope over experience that having found this delightful (and very simple) pattern I decided to make my imminently arriving grandson some little shoes that might not fit.  (There’s always the possibility that he will inherit my daughter-in-law’s dainty feet, after all!)

I bought the felt from the Blooming Felt stand at last year’s Knitting and Stitching Show, Sarah has an amazing range of colours but I went for subtle shades of grey.

felt baby shoes

This is a lovely project, very easy to sew, and the felt would lend itself to being embroidered.  I can just imagine little cream or white shoes embellished with stitched flowers for a special occasion.

I found the pictures describing the method on Pinterest…

Baby Shoes Long Pin

But the pattern and detailed instructions can be found on the Purl Bee website.  I know there are lots of prospective new mums and grannies out there, I’d love to know if you make teeny tiny shoes too!

 

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