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! 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… I made a little flower… …and there was no holding my son back once he got started, we got another Higgins… He gives us that look when we don’t share our biscuits! And I found this strange little chap peering at me out of the cups and saucers… The 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. Once you’ve created the design the paint is baked on and becomes dishwasher safe. One 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! 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… Wishing you all a peaceful, happy sun-filled Easter..I’ll be back soon…x
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!)
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
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
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… …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…
…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…
…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
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…
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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…
I’m off to clean up the dye splatters in the utility room, but I’ll be back soon!
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.
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…
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!
Day twenty one of the Christmas Countdown…it’s the shortest day, and the longest night. A good time to be thinking about candles I think!
Last year for the Advent Calendar I made these tealight holders from an assortment of pretty jars I had collected …
I would love to fill my mantelpiece with little houses…
And maybe next Christmas I could do it with card (although I’d stock up with battery powered tealights first of course!) These look very simple to do…
…and there is a template…
And if all else fails you could raid the kitchen…
I’ve had my own lighting story yesterday. As we will be visiting the family for Christmas and won’t be here for the actual day I decided it would be a waste to buy a large tree this year, I would use the little one I had for the fair. It’s pot grown and a lovely shape, just very small.
I decorated it when I was full of cold and I admit my heart wasn’t in it. The old lights from the big tree looked ridiculous and every time I looked at it I cringed. It was all decided for me when the old lights died. I got up yesterday morning, removed all the decorations, headed to the nearest town where fairy lights were reduced and bought not just one, but two sets. The tree is now re-decorated and lit and the room has fairy lights all around it and I feel soooo much more festive!
All set for younger son and daughter plus their ‘significant others’ to join us this evening to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the drawing out of the days…
I’ll be back tomorrow…x