Category Archives: Exhibitions

Hooray for the Little Red Hen!

Little Red Hen Ladybird Book

click for the story

This is the version of the Little Red Hen story I remember from way back in primary school, how we loved our Ladybird books!

We got to talking about it the other day because my friend Kit was reminiscing about her mum, sadly long gone, who used to quote the Little Red Hen when she had failed to get anyone else to do the necessary thing, whatever it was.

‘ “Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did.’

I have been chuntering for ages about the overgrown state of my vegetable patch.  It always needs the most attention when I’m tied up with the run up to Open Studios and it’s got more and more overgrown, weedy and wild every season.  However, over the past two weeks I have channelled my inner Little Red Hen and I DID IT MYSELF!

It looks great….I’m exhausted!  I’ve filled a skip bag with rubbish, the beds are topped up with fresh compost and my little mini cold frame cum green house is crammed full of seed trays and seedlings.

Higgins has tried very hard to help.

Miniature Dachshund

Taking the little fences away from the raised beds has meant he could do lots in the way of turning over the soil, and then firming it down afterwards.dachshund in raised bed

He’s carried the trowel about helpfully (and put it away tidily where it couldn’t be lost)veg patch

More little fences have turned into a priority if any of the seedlings are going to make it to maturity once they have been planted out.  Higgins has history, remember the Mixed Greens?

Did you spot the laburnum tree?  This year it’s being completely wonderful – it alternates – and it’s very special as it was a seedling from the one in my parents’ garden.laburnum

And the bees LOVE it! For the last week or so, ever since the very first buds opened the air around the tree has been throbbing with the sound of very happy little bees…listen to this…

So this is why it’s been a little quiet here over the past week, and now there’s a lot of catching up to do.

While all this was going on the Green Man went off to the Forum in Norwich for the Open Studios Taster Exhibition – you can just see him dangling next to the patchwork…

Forum, Norwich NNOS taster exhibition

Taster Exhibition – setting up

Now it’s all systems go for the main event, which starts on May 24th.

You might like to see a glimpse of the other exhibition which was running at the same time, the most amazing knitted and crochet pergola which was made to raise funds for a local charity…

knitted pergola - John Grooms Court

knitted pergola detail

Just amazing, isn’t it?  There’s an interesting post on The Mercerie blog which will tell you more about it.

My next challenge is turning the studio into an exhibition space…eek!  I’ve just got so much STUFF.

And I haven’t forgotten about those extra little Boxes of Delight.…  2014-04-28 21.37.50

The challenge now is seeing just what I can squeeze inside, so watch this space, I’ll be back 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!

 

 

Crochet Balls of all Sizes!

Oh my goodness it’s been difficult not using my sore elbow!  I’ve got so excited about the crochet balls I’ve been making.  They started off as Christmas baubles but they are so pretty I think I want to have them on display all year round!   I’ve been doing a little bit here and a little bit there and ended up with a bowlful…

a bowlful of crochet balls

and then had a happy time with needle, thread and beads giving them hanging loops.

crochet balls on branch

Having discovered  a little dish of small crochet balls lurking on the back of a shelf I had a brainwave and  threaded them in random sequence onto white cotton yarn…

crochet balls on string

…and then made a long crochet chain, working the crochet balls and beads in as I went.

crochet balls on chain

crochet ball chain on tree

Add the original bigger crochet balls and you can see why I am now having to rest my poor elbow yet again!

branch of crochet ballsThis pattern really suits the Planet Penny Cotton colours.  There are so many combinations to put together, it’s great fun.  Would you be interested in a pattern?   I’m currently working on it and it’s always time consuming but hopefully  it will be available by next weekend.

(Ed to add:  The pattern is available here!)

It’s been a busy week in other ways.  There’s been a lot of weather about,  hasn’t there?   I do hope you haven’t been caught up with any of the aftermath of the strong winds blowing us about for the past few days.  I’m currently waiting by the phone to see if my dear OH is going to have a helicopter to fly him home today which will only happen if the wind drops sufficiently.

The middle of the week was glorious in Norfolk and I called in at the Craft Fair at the How Hill Open Day.   My Open Studios partner and all round best buddy Kit was there with her  prints and cards, and several other members of our Two Rivers Trail group.  We’ll be getting together later this month for our own Craft Fair and Exhibition so if you are in the area do come along to say hello.  You can find out all about the event and the artists taking part on the Two Rivers Trail website.

I also met the lovely Sue of The Mercerie who had a stall at How Hill and drooled over her beautiful wool and colours…

The Mercerie

The Mercerie stallAnd had a word with the alpacas from Burnt Fen

Burnt Fen Alpacas..before heading back to the car via this amazing view over the Broads…

View from How Hill NorfolkBefore I go I’ve just time to tell you that I have a fabulous giveaway coming up in the next post, an early Christmas present!  So don’t forget to call back or hit the ‘Follow’  button to make sure you don’t miss it.

I’ll be back in the next few days, so see you soon …x

Beautiful Blues

I’m suffering from the Blues a bit here after last weekend.   No lounging in the garden for me this time, but it’s all full on for Open Studios in 10 days time, and anyway the weather has gone back to it’s default setting – Rubbish!   I can’t believe it’s nearly mid May and I’m back to lighting a fire in the evening.  Not that the four legged members of the family are complaining, they can’t believe their luck!

I  didn’t even find time to write a blog post either, and I’ve been collecting lots of photos over the week.  Mother Nature is a lot more robust about the weather than I am, she’s in ‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish’ mode and the garden is filling up nicely, and the hedgerows and verges too.

I love the way Spring has a sequence of colours, it’s reminds me of the little mantra of names I run through when I’m packing the Planet Penny Cottons…Aubretia, Delphinium, Cornflower, Eggshell, Aqua, Jade, Apple, Lime,  Buttercup, Marigold, Peach, Petal, Gerbera and Rose Red.  Spring starts white, with Snowdrops, but almost immediately there are yellow Aconites…

Aconites and snowdrops

photo: Van Muewen

…and then the Daffodils and Primroses arrive.

Not long after, pink is added to the mix, with Primulas, Tulips and all manner of blossoming trees.  But get to May, and it’s blue…the  Beautiful Blues and probably my favourite time of year.  I’ve tried and failed so often to capture that mysterious ethereal blue of the Bluebells but it always defeats my little camera…

bluebell wood - Beautiful Blues

Bluebells - Beautiful Blues…and anyway I can’t catch that glorious smell and save it in a file on the computer, can I?  It’s an experience, and all the more exquisite because it’s impossible to completely capture it.

In the garden, there are Forget-me-nots.

forget-me-nots - Beautiful Blues….Periwinkles…

Periwinkle - Beautiful Blue

and Cornflowers, and quite a few of the ‘Wrong sort of Bluebell’ , a European interloper, very prolific but not quite achieving deep glow of our native species.  Still, it looks pretty good as a flower arrangement…

blue flowers Beautiful Blues

There are also Irises, but I can never bring myself to pick those…

Blue Iris…aren’t they amazing?

IrisBack in the studio the challenge is to turn the working space of one incredibly messy worker (Moi!)  into an exhibition space for two, and it’s a  l-o-n-g  job.  I can always think of so many things I would rather do than tidy up!  T’was ever thus.  My dear Mamma, listening to me moaning said, ‘Well, you always used to stuff things under your bed…’  Too late….full!

I’ve tried hard to keep the creative vibe going though.  I mentioned the on going white cotton theme in this post, and I’ve at last found time to complete the project which required it.  I found this gorgeous pattern…

circles crochet pattern…with a tutorial here which was just perfect for the Planet Penny colours.   One day I might have time to make a throw, but in the meantime, there is this…

crochet circles and flowers

crochet circles crochet balls

crochet circles

2013-05-08 16.41.28It looks perfect on the dresser.

If you are looking for white cotton, there are still a couple of packs left from this post and of course all the other colours can be found in the Etsy shop.

I might be a little random in my appearances over the next week or so, there are a couple of family birthdays, a confirmation and much travelling round the country coming up, but I’ll be back, like the proverbial ‘Bad Penny’!

See you soon …x

The Magic of Serendipity

Serendipity,  a ‘happy accident’ ..it’s one of my favourite words.  The older I get, the more aware I am of the opportunities created by the serendipitous nature of the every day.  And this week’s happy accident all started with carrot cake!

I had an overdue hair appointment with my usual hairdresser, but in a different place because he is waiting to open his new salon.  The appointment was long, so I took my Kindle and by the time my hair was deemed ready for the basin, the main character in the book had visited several coffee shops and eaten quite a lot of carrot cake.  I found myself yearning for carrot cake.   Having mentioned my craving, Jon, my hairdresser had the answer.  The best carrot cake in Norwich he assured me, just up the road from where I was sitting.

Trips into Norwich these days are usually fraught with the need to get home to make my Mum’s lunch or walk Higgins, but today unusually my Mum was cared for, and Tim was on Higgins duty so I decided that lunch was going to be a slice of carrot cake and a cappuccino.  Very decadent!

It was very nice carrot cake (and if you are a fan and find yourself in the Norwich Lanes visit the House Cafe and tell me if I’m right!) and, suitably replete I wandered back down the road doing a spot of window shopping.   I ground to halt out side a shop full of the gorgeous fabric.  So I just had to go in.

The shop is Arts Desire, and the Serendipity Fairy had just waved her magic wand…

Arts Desire , St Benedicts St, Norwich

…and it’s one of those shops you just want to move into.  I would so love a wall like this…

Arts Desire Pip china…and all that pretty china.  Here’s some of the gorgeous fabric…

Arts Desire Interior..and there are kits…

Arts Desire felt kits…and ribbons…

Arts Desire ribbons…and more ribbons…

Arts Desire and more ribbons…it was all absolutely…

cushion embroidered with Wonderful - SerendipityI do rather think I need that cushion!

Arts desire interior the Norwich LanesAnd there was a dachshund!

Fabric dachshunds - serendipity

Behind all this gorgeousness I found a Craft Lounge offering workshops in Lampshade Making, Knitting, Crochet, wet Felt making, Sewing, Quilting and Silver jewellery making.  It’s Norwich’s answer to the Makery in Bath!

I had just established that there were no Needlefelting classes on offer when the owner returned from lunch and after ten minutes of nattering and comparing notes we had a cunning plan.

I regularly get emails asking if I teach Needlefelting  Classes, and mostly I just teach private groups.  Finding a good venue that people can get to easily has been the main drawback and Norwich has good routes from most places these days.  So the Craft Lounge at Arts Desire, just off the centre of the city will be the perfect place to hold Needlefelt Workshops.

There are no dates as yet but it will be after Open Studios is over from the middle of June onwards.  If you are interested please follow this link and leave your contact details (mentioning Planet Penny/needlefelt) in your message  and we will keep you up to date.

Don’t despair if you are tempted by all this loveliness and live too far away because there is also an online shop and a Facebook Page so there are lots more goodies to drool over!

I will be back on Sunday with the results of the draw for  the Ruth Cross book ‘The Knitted Home’.  There’s still time to enter if you haven’t already, just leave your knitting story in the comments on the post here.

I will also have details of yet another great prize which I have been given to offer to you, so don’t forget to call back to take part.

See you soon…x

 

Waiting for Spring

Happy Easter!  It seems strange to start a post entitled ‘Waiting for Spring’ that way but we are really stuck in some topsy turvy weather at the moment.  Hard to credit getting up on the first morning after the clocks change for British Summer Time to a sprinkling of snow!  We’ve actually got off lightly here in Norfolk as far as snow goes, the pictures of devastated farmers digging their sheep out of snowdrifts in other parts of the country have been heartbreaking.  We’ve just got the Arctic blast coming straight off the North Sea and hitting us sitting on the exposed lumpy bit sticking out of the East of England to contend with.

So I’m sharing a pretty Spring like picture to cheer us up…

lollipop broom bush for Spring

Higgins is not a fan of going out in the cold and I’ve had a running battle with him over the building of dachshund ‘nests’ out of the soft furnishings.  He’s only really happy when he has buried himself  and if he finds himself on the sofa with no available ‘blankie’ he will grizzle until he’s been covered up.

Since he’s eaten the corners of all the old cushions he now has a cushion of his very own, and a fleece blanket he can do whatever he likes with.  Unfortunately, he feels these are just not good enough, and compare very poorly with the fluffy throw I have draped over the back of the sofa, and the new velvet cushions in anemone colours I rashly bought a few weeks ago.

Every time my back is turned, this happens…

miniature dachshund keeping warm

…and he might look guilty…

Miniature dachshund looking guilty

…but that doesn’t mean he’s going to move!

I’ve reached a bit of a hiatus on Planet Penny just now.  It’s always slightly problematic judging  stock levels with the Planet Penny cotton because I don’t have a huge amount of space to store it.  Unfortunately an unexpected rush of orders has coincided with a couple of colours being out of stock at the suppliers so it’ll be first come first served on the few packs remaining until the middle of April.

But…

There are some changes afoot.  I’ll be trialling a new pack, which some of you have been asking about for a while AND I have a new venture in the pipeline which I will tell you about later on in the year, so I’m not standing still by any means.

Meanwhile, Open Studios is on the horizon and I have started an ambitious needlefelted piece for exhibition so a lull on the cotton front is probably a good thing.  There are only so many hours in the day!   It’s refreshing change to be doing something creative and challenging  just for me,  I hope it turns out looking at least a little bit like the image in my head.

Just a reminder, the Bunny crochet pattern offer ends tomorrow, Easter Monday at 5pm UK time.  After that it will be available through the Etsy shop, but for now it’s still yours for FREE!

I changed the yarn to make this version, a big soft squidgy version as a baby toy…

big spring crochet bunny

big crochet bunny for Spring

I’m off now to dig Higgins out of his latest nest, put on his coat and march him round a field or two…

Norfolk Field - Spring

…and then get back to my felting needle.  Don’t forget to nip over the Handmade Harbour to see what’s going on for Handmade Monday this week.

I’ll see you soon…x

 

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