Category Archives: Life in General

Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew….

Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub…the Trumpton Firemen.  I’ve got very fond memories of watching Trumpton year after year as my children were growing up and this was my favourite moment.  There was never a fire in Trumpton, just cats up trees and things floating down the river.

Anyway, Pugh, Pugh et al came round to my house last night, and this time there was a fire!

Just after 9 last night I became aware of a roaring noise, which wasn’t the wind, and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the wooden beam over the fireplace was ablaze.

And how silly was the thought, ‘Oh, I can’t call 999, that’s for emergencies’ ?!  Well if having your house on fire isn’t an emergency…

Anyway I did call, and by the time I’d finished talking they assured me a team was on the way and to get out of the room.  Higgins and I stood out in the back garden listening for the approaching siren and soon the lane was filled with a big appliance and blue flashing lights.

Six burly firefighters strode in and quickly and efficiently emptied the stove, hauled out the burning debris from above and squirted water up the chimney.  And hung around to make sure that everything was cooling off and not going to start up again.

2014-03-19 21.32.28It was really not how I envisaged spending the evening!

(And for all my female friends who got terribly excited about the whole hunky firefighter thing, in a situation like this hunkiness pales into insignificance alongside handiness with a stirrup pump and a bucket of water….Thank goodness they didn’t bring the hose in!)

Higgins thought that having an influx of nice people who like dogs was a great idea however…

2014-03-19 21.51.15By eleven o’clock they had left, satisfied all was safe, leaving a wet sooty mess which I decided I would tackle in the morning.

2014-03-19 22.44.03You can see the knothole in the beam where the fire started to come through from the back, and it’s only today, after not a lot of sleep and so feeling very tired, that I started on the ‘what ifs’.  I know that’s not a good idea but so hard not to think that it could have happened after I’d gone to bed.  And in the normal way of things I would have been at a meeting last night, at just the time I spotted the blaze…

I’m NOT going to think about it…

Higgins rarely sleeps in our bed as he likes to get under the covers and lick knees (yuck) but last night after his pre-bedtime visit to the garden he rushed straight to the bottom of the stairs to be carried up.  Obviously determined not to be left downstairs in the soot and chaos.  And this is how I was greeted this morning…IMG_20140320_070402

Maybe worth having wet knees after all!

Hopefully the next post will be cheerier, with prettier pictures. Don’t forget this weekend someone will win the Box of Delights!

See you soon…x

500 Blog Posts…?

Goodness Gracious me!  It doesn’t seem possible that it was 2007 that I wrote my first tentative post, and followed up with my first recorded finished project…

sampler crochet blanket

I’ve spent the last couple of days scrolling through all the posts and collecting images from each year.  (And saying to myself…’was it THAT long ago?…how time flies…sigh’)  It’s been quite a good indicator of my changing interests and how things have developed.  My first year was quite transitional.  I started our local Knit and Stitch group,  Higgins arrived, I made my first forays into dyeing and discovered the delights of a good compact digital camera with lots of photos of the garden, flowers and nature.



The following year I discovered the rainbow loveliness to found at a budget price with Stylecraft yarn.  Got my felting needles out again after a bit of a lull after graduating and my new studio was built.



There was a lot needlefelting in 2011.  I had a stall at the Pickn’Mix Makers Market and took part in Open Studios for the first time…

2011montage copy


Big things happened in 2012.  We had a lovely family wedding, Open Studios again and I discovered the Planet Penny cotton and opened my little online shop. I wrote my first patterns and got invited to few exciting events.

2012montage copy


2013 was more of the same, with some needlefelting workshops to run into the bargain, and a new Art Trail for Open Studios…



And this year, with a new member of family and lots of other plans, is shaping up quite nicely too!


2014 – the story so far!

But what has made it all so special is you.  All you out there who visit, and comment and sign up to follow.  Who leave comforting messages when things are difficult and encouraging remarks .

Writing this blog has meant I’ve met up with like minded people, and also been in touch with people from the other end of of the country and the other side of the world.  It’s an amazing privilege, and a lot of fun!

So I’m planning a very special thank you.

I’m going to create a  Box of Delights and fill it with the essence of what Planet Penny is all about. Little bits and pieces of everything I do.  So there will be some yarn and fabric, ribbons and bindings, beads and buttons, ooh, all sorts of small bits of loveliness!

I’m going to be putting the box together over the next couple of weeks and sharing it so you can see what will be inside.  I’m really looking forward to it!

And then?  I’m going to give it away…to one of you.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post to take part.  Maybe say something about yourself, about what you do, why you visit Planet Penny (maybe you come to play with Higgins!) The only stipulation is that it’s a)non-offensive and b)it’s not of the ‘me,me, pick me’ variety (you have to do a little work!)

I’ll do the draw when I’ve filled the box, and no, I don’t know how big the box is yet!  And it’s open to everyone.  If you have a standard postal service in your country I will send it there if your name come out of the hat!

I’m off to the studio now to start looking through all the goodies I have stored in boxes, tins and baskets, and hopefully a by-product of the Box of Delights will be a tidy studio.  (Well, I can dream!)

See you soon…x

It’s oh, so Quiet….

…here in the cyberspace version of Planet Penny.  But in the real world it’s oh, SO hectic!

I have a full house.  All the family are here for the weekend, all planned so that they could meet the latest family member who was due on Valentines Day.

Trouble was, the family  punctually arrived on Thursday, and the little one was far too warm and comfy where he was to put in an appearance. There might even have been an element of hiding away from this mob of new aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents!

However yesterday, after a long night, day and evening for his poor mum and anxious dad, baby Arthur arrived safe and well.  This meant cracking open the champagne at 11 o’clock last night (and feeling a little worse for wear this morning) Well you have to, don’t you?

So if I’m not around here on Planet Penny for a few days, you’ll understand why,   I’ll be back very soon.

I’ll leave you with the story so far on my Green Man project.  There a way to go yet but I’m pleased to find that my efforts to match him to the cherry trees in the garden have worked well. I don’t think I’d like to come across him in a misty woodland at dusk, do you?

Needlefelt Green Man for NNOS 2014See you soon…x


It’s a Jungle Out There

This isn’t the post I planned to write, but I think it needs to be written, both for the people like me with small businesses trying to make things work, and for our potential customers.

Just as I was going to bed last night I had a message from a fellow Etsy member, for which I am so grateful.  It was to alert me to the fact that one of my patterns was for sale via a European site similar to Etsy.  The person who got in touch had found one of her own items for sale in the shop, and spotted my Mini Mice pattern.

The shop had about 14 patterns for sale, and presumably they had all been similarly ‘shoplifted’ from Etsy, Folksy or similar, assembled together for the benefit of this unscrupulous person.  I hate to think that person is a customer of mine, but he/she would have to have access to the original pattern, perhaps borrowed from a friend?  Who knows…

But not only did they help themselves to my pattern, they also copied all my photos from the Etsy listing, and copied and pasted the description too.  Completely shameless!

It’s theft…

It was quite peculiar finding a picture with my eggcup on my tablecloth on a completely strange site!

mini mouse Planet Penny - Etsy

I have emailed the shopping site with this information and await their response.  I’ve also sent a message to the…..the…words fail me!.. PERSON who perpetrated the crime.  I don’t expect a reply to that however!

This is so unfair.  I don’t mean to me personally, but to everyone who has beavered away creating something unique, who is trying to make a small business pay it’s way, trying to realise the dream of making a living from their own endeavours.  It’s only been possible since the advent of the internet and it’s been an amazing opportunity for so many people.  Unfortunately it’s also created many opportunities for underhand, dishonest people to coast along on the backs of a lot of hard working makers and crafters.

I’m not sure what can be done to protect our work.  Etsy shows a warning every time an item is listed…

By adding files to this listing, you guarantee that you have rights to the content. Etsy may remove content per our Copyright and IP Policy, at which point buyers may not be able to access purchased files. See our Terms for more information.

….so I presume this is similarly stated by other sites, and if they are informed that someone is contravening this one hopes they take action.

And we can look out for each other as my fellow Etsy member did.  We can pass on any information or suspicions which we spot and try and nip these things in the bud.  Whether you are a maker or a buyer, this affects us all.

It has concentrated my mind on the thing I’ve been chuntering about for ages and not doing, adding watermarks to my photos.  I use Photoshop, and although I had made a watermark layer, it was a bit fiddly and I’ve been lazy about it.  Today however I found a handy little You Tube video which made things very much easier.  By turning  the watermark into a preset brush it’s the work of a moment to add it to any photo.  If Photoshop is your thing you can find the video here.

It’s a pity as it doesn’t enhance the image but as I’ve also had pictures turning up without any link on Pinterest I think they are a necessary evil!

Planet Penny Mini Mice - EtsyAs things stand at the moment, the offending shop has been suspended and I don’t want to go down the road of naming and shaming but I think it’s something we should all be aware of, don’t you?

I’ll be back soon with a happier post.  I’ve been beavering away with my Green Man and he’s progressing nicely, I can’t wait to show you!

See you soon…x


The Year in Books

I mentioned serendipity in my last post, as that is what led me to a blog I hadn’t visited before, and a project ‘A Year in Books’ which is just what I need to rejuvenate my flagging spirits.

I’ve written before about my book habit, but over the years I’ve bought more and more books to feed the creative side of things, practical stuff, craft books, cookery books. My fiction reading has dwindled to 10 or 15 minutes a night in bed. Dozing off after a few minutes means that I end up rereading the same paragraph over and over trying to remember what is going on.

One of my decisions about slowing down and living in the real world a bit more was to put down the smart phone and pick up a book.  This was why when I visited Penelope by the Sea on her lovely blog,  L is for Love, I found she had discovered the perfect incentive on ‘A Circle of Pine Trees’.

Laura has created a reading project, nothing unattainable, of reading and sharing a book a month over the year.  It can be shared on her blog via a linky button, on Instagram or Pinterest, a great way to find recommendations for new authors and books.   All the details are in Laura’s post here, if you are interested in joining in.

My book for January is the latest Mark Haddon, which I bought on Liverpool Street Station on my way back from Aimee’s graduation a month ago (and hadn’t looked at since!) …

Mark Haddon - The Rewd House - A Year in Books

I made a start this morning in a packed hospital waiting room. Much better to get stuck into a book than fuming about my appointment being an hour overdue!  So thank you to Laura for devising the idea, and for Penny for pointing me in the right direction…

Meanwhile, unlike so many other places in the UK, we had a glorious start to the day so I wandered round the garden with Higgins to see what was going on.

The snowdrops are nearly up!

snowdrop buds

There are primroses…

January Primroses…and tiny miniature cyclamen…

cyclamen…and still at the end of the garden, a rose is blooming…

January RoseHiggins, meanwhile still dives into his bed to hide when his coat is put on and he knows he has to go for a walk, however bright the sunshine!

miniature dachshund in bedThank you for all the encouraging comments on my last post.  It seems I’m not alone in feeling a little jaded, I think a lot of us are experiencing post Christmas burnout!

Onwards and upwards….see you soon…x


Has Anybody Seen My Mojo…?

Norfolk SkyI’m feeling like I’m a bit of blogging dead loss at the moment, I do apologise!

I built up quite a head of steam during December with my daily Christmas Countdown posts, and had lots of plans for January but as you know, 2014 did not get off to a good start for Team Planet Penny…

And annoyingly I’m just generally not very well.  Nothing alarming, but two separate things which necessitate visits to different clinics at the hospital the other side of Norwich  for tests and consultations and so far I’m averaging two trips a week!

So the energy levels are low, and my get up and go really has got up and gone!

There are only two choices in this situation.  I can sit and fume about not being able to do the things I want to do and make myself feel even worse, or step back and let things drift a little while I administer a little TLC to myself.

I’m my own worst enemy when I’m busy anyway.  Eating standing up, being too tired to bother to cook for one in the evening when Tim is away, cheese and crackers and a glass of wine (or two!) is SO easy… Saying ‘yes’ too often when asked to do something I don’t actually have time to do…I don’t need to go on, I’m sure you’ve been there too.

So I’m switching off the computer in the evenings, and trying to ignore all but the most urgent emails and texts which arrive via my phone.  I’m eating meals at mealtimes, simple stuff but fresh and not filling up on biscuits and tea to keep going.  And while I’m waiting for my inspiration to return I’m going to make some little things for my forthcoming grandson, due to arrive of Valentine’s Day.

I’ve had a baby blanket on the hook for ages revisiting my old favourite, the Ripple stitch and made what my Dad would have referred to as a ‘Bobby-Dazzler’!

crochet ripple blanket - Planet Penny Cotton

Planet PEnny Cotton - Ripple stitch blanket

Ripple Stitch baby blanket - Planet Penny cotton

pram blanket - Planet PEnny cotton

And I bought a magazine after Christmas which I hoped would inspire me…

Handmade Gifts for Girls and  Boys

Don’t you love the dinosaurs?  I thought they would be perfect for the Planet Penny Cotton and planned to make all three.  This is the Diplodocus…

crochet diplodocus - Planet Penny CottonHe’s very cute, but alas I can’t recommend the pattern to anyone who isn’t a fairly practised crocheter. It was quite tricky to keep track of the stitches because there was no indication at the end of each increase or decrease row as to how many stitches there should actually be.  Such a shame, and silly really because there are so many other places to find patterns with picture explanations or even videos. You need a bit more when you’ve paid out £7.99 for a magazine.

crochet dinosaur - Planet Penny Cotton

dinosaur - crochet in Planet Penny CottonI have another project too, thanks to the power of serendipity!  It’s all about making time to read, and linking up with other readers.

I’ll be back soon to tell you all about it, and in the meantime I’ll leave you with the promised photo of my knitted square for the Age UK Campaign from this post.  It’ll be on it’s way to Norman Lamb MP this very week!

warm homesd now Age UK Campaign 2014

Have you made yours yet?!

See you soon…x