Category Archives: Nature

Box of Delights – The Results

Good Morning! I hope your morning is as beautiful as ours is today…
hyacinths in Spring ukVery frosty first thing, but gorgeously bright and sparkly.

So it’s a good day to be awarding prizes.  Firstly I have to say thank you again for the wonderful comments, it really has been heart lifting, and makes me feel another 500 posts may well be possible.  I wish I could write to each and every one of you but there were 100 entries!

And I always feel bad when I do a giveaway because I can’t give something to everyone so I decided to add in four extra runners up to spread the delight a little further.  In the past I have used my trusty helper to draw a winning name.  We used a basket once…

mini dachshund drawing winning ticket…and of course the hat…

Mini Dachsie & winning ticket…but it involved a lot chasing around to find out who’s name actually came out of the hat…

mini dachsie winning ticket…and it’s awfully damp and spitty.  Also, there were so many this time…

list for Box of Delights…that I used the Random Number Generator which involves no chasing, and no chewed paper. So without further ado, and a big drum roll I am very pleased to announce that the winning number was 96 and the Box of Delights goes to Pennie, in East Sussex.  The four runners up are number 14 – Sue Cambell in Alabama, number 15 – Cindy Wilson in Canada, Number 46 – Toffeeapple of Buckinghamshire and 48 – Linda Thorpe of Norfolk.

I shall share the runners-up prizes as I create them, it’s sparked another idea!  Thank you all again for taking part.

And thank you too for all the supportive and concerned comments regarding our adventure with the fire last week.  Everything is tidy and soot free in the room now and I’ve pinned a dust sheet over the fireplace as we await builders’ estimates.  It’s not going to be a quick job, alas, Higgins and I are both snuggled under blankies in the evening now!

dachsie in a blanketSee you soon…!

 

 

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!

 

 

Perfecting the Art of Procrastination…

…or  indecisiveness…

Which is it?  I can’t make up my mind!

So here’s the problem.  I have done quite a few things over the past few weeks, have LOADS of photos and I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days being completely unable to write a blog post about anything because there’s TOO MUCH STUFF…

Which means I either never write another post, or I just metaphorically throw everything in the air, grab some bits here and there and see what happens.

We went to the Knitting and Stitching show a couple of weeks ago.  So much to see, and some amazing exhibitions.  I hope to follow up on some of the interesting stalls at a later date but in the meantime, well, I did treat myself.  Last time I went, a couple of years ago I fell in love with the wonderful Throw kits on the Colinette stand but there was such a huge choice I just couldn’t make up my mind, and have been kicking myself ever since.  I don’t know when I’m going to get time to make it, but this time I did buy one at the special show price  I wish you could feel how wonderfully soft and warm the yarn is, and the colours are fabulous…

perugino skylark throw Colinette

 My other great buy was a pinnie from Alison Hulme Textiles

Alison Hulme Pinnie

Hand printed by Alison on denim, it’s almost a dress!  It’s a good extra layer, will fit over a woolly jumper and has two big deep pockets so it’s a perfect work uniform for me when I’m in the studio.

And then I went off to the seaside…

Just a few days on the South Coast and it was lovely.  There was lots of weather…

Bright and breezy…

sea

IMG_2310Wild and windy…

IMG_2281Rainy…

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…and peaceful.

IMG_2354

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A teachers strike meant I had a precious day with my grandsons, a trip to the Observatory Science Centre which I enjoyed as much as they did!  I was allowed to have ago on all the scientific apparatus and no one told me I was too tall, or old to join in, and a tour of one of the telescopes.  A great way to entertain a granny!

IMG_2329

Now I’m home I’m gradually unpacking all the things put away to make way for the decorator and seeing them in a fresh light.  It’s so easy to stop actually ‘seeing’ things, isn’t it. when you’ve had them a long time in the same place.  I’ve got shelves in a redundant fireplace which is ideal for china and other small and fragile pieces.  It spent several years with a perspex sheet screwed to the front when the boys were small, so with another little one coming along in the New Year, I need to make the most of it before we have to replace the perspex!

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It’s all been a bit slow on the making front, alas.  I’ve been suffering from RSI in my elbow and operating the mouse and the crochet hook seems to be the culprit, which is so frustrating.  I really want to write a pattern for the Christmas balls I’ve been making with the Planet Penny Cotton which requires lots of crochet experiments and ‘mouse work’ for the photos, and rest is really the only answer for RSI.

I’ve been good though and have only done a bit here and a bit there so I hope it won’t be too long before I’m back up to speed.

crochet Christmas balls Planet Penny Cotton

 Christmas crochet  balls Planet Penny Cotton

crochet Christmas balls -  Planet Penny CottonGetting my rainbow colour fix is always good for the spirits!

Well, I have both Henry and Higgins telling me it’s teatime and although they are an hour too early I won’t get much peace right now!

If you are in the UK and are watching out for the weather warnings for tomorrow’s predicted storm as we are here, keep safe and warm.

See you soon…x

Turf, Surf and Needlefelt Birds

A mixed bag post today, I’ve been lurking inside a lot consoling myself with needlefelt because of the unseasonably cold weather, but then rejoicing in sunshine and warmth when at last we get a brief indication that it’s actually summertime!  I’m only wearing TWO layers today, and no thermal fleece!

The wind seems to have blown constantly for months in this part of the UK and we live in the windiest corner of the village, near the remains of the old mill.  Wind always seems to make everything worse, doesn’t it?  Colder, and so noisy with it whistling around the chimney.  Yesterday’s walk was a bit scary, with small branches being blown off the trees.  I wasn’t sorry to see some rain for the garden though, and Higgins was relieved that the thunderstorm which hit Norwich skirted around us.  Despite all this Mother Nature is flourishing in the hedgerows…

dog rose

green lane

pink campion

white flowerThe grass is long enough now to ripple in the wind like water, and is such a lush green…

grassy meadow

Norfolk field miniature dachshund

But, in true English fashion today the weather is completely different.  The sunshine in the garden brought the bees to the chive flowers…

chive flower and beeI know you are supposed to snip the flowers off if you want nice chives for kitchen use, but how can I deprive the poor bees?

bee on chive flowers

chives with bee

Such a beautiful morning was too good to waste, so Higgins and I headed to the beach before breakfast.  What could be better than a deserted Norfolk beach in the sunshine?

Norfolk beach

The sand is gradually returning after being scoured by the winter gales.  Only a couple of weeks ago this stretch was down to red clay.

Norfolk beach and sunHiggins was very happy..

Norfolk beach and miniature dachshundAnd quite intrepid too in the shallows…

miniature dachshund at the beach

Miniature dachshund paddling…and the pools…

Miniature dachshund in pool

Back home I’m getting ready for the first Needlefelt Workshop next weekend at Art’s Desire Craft Lounge in Norwich.  The first one is all booked up and the second one is filling but fear not, further dates have been added to the calendar!  The   Birds on a Branch piece I created for Open Studios last year is in the shop window because we’ll be making birds, of all descriptions…

needlefelt birds on a branchThis is my latest flight of fancy….

Needlefelt birds

Needlefelt and feather birds

Feather and Needlefelt birds Happy, not Angry Birds!

And, in case you were wondering, there is a winner for last week’s  giveaway of a copy of Caroline Zoob’s gorgeous book, The Hand-Stitched Home.  Thank you, to everyone who entered  with wonderful stitching memories, I really enjoyed reading them.  It seems for every school day horror there was also a wonderful teacher or relative who passed on their own love of the subject.

It  was so hard to choose, I wanted everyone to win, but there’s only one copy of the book!

Please imagine the drum roll, or the pregnant pause beloved of TV Games shows so that I can announce…the winner is… Nikki Pierce who writes her own blog Tales from Swallow Barn.

Congratulations Nikki, I hope you enjoy your copy of the book and that we see some of your creations on your blog before too long (No pressure or anything!)

I’m off now to put the kettle on.  I hope you’ve got your feet up with a cuppa too!

Have a great week and I’ll be back soon…

Daisy, Daisy….

Daisy

I promised a daisy post and while they are still shining vibrantly in the lane I’m fitting in this little post.

I love daisies, don’t you?  They are the simplest flower, their shape is the one we first learn to draw, the one we doodle while we are on the phone.  They are a link to childhood… did you sit on the school playing field in the sun making daisy chains with friends as I did?  And they have become very much linked with the Open Studios season, as each year the edge of the lane leading to the studio is lined with a mass of Ox Eye Daisies…

ox eye daisy down the lane

Daisy and dog

Last year Kit, my Open Studios partner-in-crime, was inspired by the daisies as you can see from this post  and turned her sketches into a beautiful little etching.   I treated myself to a pack of cards as they are perfect for personalised letters…

Daisy Card

And that would have been all, but for the new book which I reviewed last weekend.  Caroline Zoob, writing in the The Hand-Stitched Home featured a beautiful curtain, patchworked from vintage lawn and lace.

The Hand-Stitched Home curtain

 It would take ages to amass such a wonderful collection but, nothing daunted, I called into our local charity shop just in case someone had been clearing out Miss Haversham’s attic!

Well, they hadn’t..but in a pile of textile odds and end I found a little crumpled treasure which, carefully washed, starched and ironed revealed…daisies!  It’s a wonderful piece of hand stitched cut work on fine lawn, a little frayed in places but this, I think, adds to the charm…

daisy cutwork

Unfortunately my name isn’t Susan…

cut work Susanbut for 25 pence – 25 PENCE! – that’s a minor detail…

cutwork cloth

I have been debating for a week or two what to put in the little window in the new door into my office.  I’m not a fan of nets, I didn’t want to lose the light but I just wanted to hide the interior from prying eyes if anyone called while I was out.  This small piece is perfect and with the help of some  pins I covered with vintage fabric a while ago I have my own little bright white curtain…

lace and pin

lace and pins

pin and lace

window with cutwork cloth

And 25p was well spent, I think you’ll agree!

If you’ve been inspired, there’s still a chance for you to win a copy of The Vintage Home.  Visit the post and leave a comment, what’s your sewing story?

 

Switch Off for a Day in the Sun

Bank Holiday weekends should be the time to switch off, but they rather merge into the background on Planet Penny.  One tends not to do just a five day week when you work from home, it’s very hard to shut the door and walk away, Tim’s working rota takes no account of public holidays and I’m my Mum’s carer.  This means I can’t actually remember when I actually switched off for a whole day.  Which is ridiculous!

So last weekend I awarded myself a Day Off!

First rule: Do Not Switch On The Computer.

Second Rule: Do Not Switch On The Phone.

I started with a trip to our lovely village shop, our Community Shop if you remember, I own at least a brick or two!  I bought the Sunday Paper, a cup of freshly ground coffee and a Double Chocolate Muffin and took them outside in the sun .  I took no photos of this, I’m afraid, but everyone behind the counter in the shop rushed out to take one as I was christening the new chairs and tables! (If you really want to see, you’ll have to check out the Facebook Page!)

Once back home I dragged the old steamer chair under the cherry trees in the garden and filled it with a throw and cushions…

Patchwork Throw, crochet and knitted cushions in garden chair the place to Switch Off…went in to collect the only paper work I intended to do  all day…

Reading the papers to Switch Off…and got back to the chair to find it was being kept warm for me!

Miniature dachshund in garden chairOnce we had established that if anyone was going to sit on the grass it wasn’t going to be me, it was fine.  I not only read both Saturday and Sunday’s papers I went on to finish the book I had started a while ago.

After lunch one of us decided to carry on sunbathing…Tabby cat sunbathing…while the rest of us went for a walk…

miniature dachshund running

(the one with short legs did running)

treesThe name of this lovely lime green tree escapes me, but aren’t the flowers pretty?

green flower

It seems only a short time ago the hedgerows were white with snow, but now it’s blossom.

blossom in hedgerowSo pretty and so fleeting…

white blossom

 

Then home for a cup of tea.

A light supper and an episode of Endeavour finished the day and I woke up the next morning feeling I had a weeks holiday, full of ideas and plans!

This is something I must factor in to my life on a regular basis to keep the creative juices flowing, however hard it is to find the ‘Off’ switch.

I wonder… what do you do to unwind?

 

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