Category Archives: Shopping

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

Come to the Christmas Fair!

There’s a lot scurrying around going on in this part of the world this week, and it’s not just the mice!  We have our very first Christmas Fair this coming weekend, which is exciting and scary in equal measures.

Two Rivers Trail Christmas FairSo who is this ‘we’ I hear you ask…

Well, if you’ve been visiting Planet Penny for a while you will know that for the last few years I, along with my print maker pal, Kit, have taken part of Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios.  It turned out to be a wonderful way of meeting up with kindred spirits living very close by, so this year we got together as the Two Rivers Trail to create an Art Trail for Open Studios in May of this year.

It all worked so well we decided a year was too long to wait to get together again and so the idea of a Christmas Fair and Exhibition was born.  It’s been a great excuse for meeting up over coffee and/or wine for planning meetings!

For various reasons this year the Planet Penny Etsy shop has been my only selling point so it’s going to be fun to step out of cyberspace and into reality and meet real people.  I hope that any Planet Penny readers who live in the area will come to say hello.  My fellow ‘Trailers’ are varied and very talented, so we’ve got a great mix of things to see, and to buy.  If you call over to the Two Rivers Trail website you can find out more about us all.

It’s hard to decide what to sell alongside the pieces I will be exhibiting, as needlefelting is such a time consuming craft and it’s hard to fit it in alongside the pattern writing, crochet, yarn processing, blog writing, knitting and everything else.  This is why it makes more sense to teach it so that others have the fun of making their own creations.  Nevertheless, I decided to make a collection of ‘One Off’ creations, totally exclusive, no two the same.  Collectors items for the Christmas tree!

I started with a basket of hearts, needlefelted with  fleece from my massive bag of colours, another rainbow collection…

needlefelt hearts for Christmas Fair

I was quite tempted just to leave them just as they are, and heap them up on my dresser but no, that is not the plan.

I sat in the corner of my studio with the hearts and gradually disappeared beneath a heap of ribbons and trimmings, buttons, beads and threads while I had a happy few hours making tree decorations…

tree decorations for Christmas Fair

And they do look really pretty on the Christmas tree…

needlefelt baubles for Christmas Fair

Now I’ve just got to persuade myself to part with them!

I’ll be back soon with more pretty things, but for now I’d better get back to the preparations.  I have a red tablecloth to hem!

If you are in the area, put the date in the diary and come and see us, we’d love to meet you, and there will be CAKE!

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

 

Community Spirit

I’m straying from my usual crafty ramblings  to share a little bit of the real life and community outside Planet Penny for once.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while you will know that I live in quite a rural part of Norfolk in the UK.  A corner of a muddy field as I frequently say!

Our ‘patch’ is a virtual island, with the river and Broads to one side of us, and the main Norwich to Great Yarmouth road creating a boundary on the other side, and in the middle three parishes which, while each having fiercely protected individual characters of their own, operate together very effectively.

Over the years things have changed, as is true in rural areas all over the UK, and gradually the local industry which kept the communities thriving has died away.  It takes a real effort of will to keep the community spirit thriving, and I’m so proud of where I live and what has been achieved.

In 2009 our wonderful eco built Village Hall was opened after many years of fundraising and diligent application for grants and this is now a thriving hub for the community.  We have a vibrant amateur dramatics company who keep us entertained two or three times a year, a Farmers Market, a Community Gym, WI, a choir, a band, Gardening club, well, I could go and on!

But last year we were all despair when we lost our last remaining village shop.  It had been in decline for sometime after the enterprising couple who had been running it very successfully moved on to pastures new, and things started to fall apart after that.   Less than a year ago the building was in the hands of the receivers, an undiscovered water leak had led to mould and rot throughout and it seemed all hope of having a shop was lost.

White House Stores Community Shop

But that was before a small group of enterprising and determined people got together.   Within a matter of weeks they had formed the The Three Villages Community Association Limited, come up with a business plan, got the local housing association on board, the Plunkett Foundation and the Lottery Fund and got the village together to put forward the proposal that we, as a community, would buy the premises and run it as a shop.

In order to qualify for the grants on offer the village had to come up with a certain proportion of the money, a not inconsiderable sum. Thanks to the hard work of the committee in working out a system whereby everyone could buy shares in affordable amounts we raised the amount just in time to qualify for the grants.

White House Store Community Shop

Unbelievable that was in July last year and with work starting in the depths of winter, and a huge amount of commitment being put in by volunteers, and donations from local businesses the shop opened today!

We had the most appalling weather for the Grand Opening.  The rain came down in buckets, the main street in the village had a virtual river running down it, but still dozens of people donned wellies, put up their colourful brollies and turned up to celebrate.

White House Store Community Shop Opening

Our MP, Norman Lamb came hotfoot from making waves in Westminster to make a speech and cut the ribbon. Everyone cheered and the visiting dog barked in all the right places!  It was all terribly British, especially the rain!

Tr Hon Norman Lamb MP opening shop

It’s run by volunteers, so the community spirit doesn’t stop here, but carries on.  I’m still trying to pluck up courage to man the till, I have a bad track record with tills, and am convinced I’ll either bankrupt the place in a week, or blow it up… I’m the window dresser though, and running the Facebook page and Twitter, and doing my shopping there, which is the most important thing!! Eat your heart out Mr Tesco…

White House Stores Community Shop Window

I wanted to share this with you because it just shows what can be achieved with the right community spirit.  Who knows, it might even make someone else think, yes, we can do this too and put the heart back into another village.  And last, but not least, anyone on holiday on the Norfolk Broads and finds themselves on Barton Broad can make a short trip down the dyke, walk a few hundred yards down the road, and find out for themselves just what a community shop is all about.

I might even see you there!

And now? Well the pub is up for sale….. any takers?

P.S.  If you would like to find out more, and see photos of the work and progress over the weeks visit the White House Stores Facebook Page and or follow us on Twitter @whitehousestore

 

 

 

Advent Calendar – Day Seven

Hello, I’m back, having found a tiny little gap where the unrelenting gloom lifted enough to take the photos for today’s Advent Calendar.  I’m not flying completely by the seat of my pants each day, I do have things up my sleeve, but there’s always something I need to do at the last minute.  T’was ever thus!

I’m going to digress a little first however, because I went into Norwich yesterday and apart from the much needed haircut, I did a little shopping.  I really, really hate going shopping at this time of year.  It’s not just the crowds, and the too hot shops etc.  It’s the unrelenting forced fake Christmassiness  (is that a word?)in the big stores which devalues the whole event and is calculated to panic us all into buying things we don’t need.  If it’s not sprinkled with glitter, it’s covered with sugar, or possibly chocolate and we’d be letting the family down if we don’t stock up with lots of it, whatever it is…

I’m trying  as much as possible to buy from independant shops and small craft businesses, and because of living out of the city this tends to be online.  So I made a point of going to a little shop I’ve been meaning to visit for ages and had intended to write a blog post about.  Imaging my dismay when I arrived there and found it’s to close before Christmas!   It’s a gorgeous shop, and I’m sure  if I was still in the city on a daily basis I would have practically kept it viable singlehandedly(well I’d have had a jolly good try!) But I’m going to tell you about it anyway, because if you near enough to visit I urge you to go there for your present shopping before the doors close for ever.

These two posters give you a really good idea of the feel of the place…

It really is just one lovely thing after another, beautiful handmade things, and vintage bits and pieces.  I can’t show you most of what I bought alas, as it might spoil some surprises but I did treat myself to a little something which seemed appropriate…

PAperweight - Save the Planet

…and I bought these which have come in handy for todays Advent Calendar make…

tiny silver bells

You’ll find Follies in Bridewell Alley in Norwich, and on Facebook too where you can keep up to date with the online plans.  It’s very sad that vibrant and original shops like this can’t get the support they need to survive.

So because I’m not going to support Mr Tesco by buying my wrapping paper and labels from him I’ve been making some tags of my own, and have also sourced some online ones to print which I thought I’d share with you.

I already had some brown parcel tags which I customised in this post, but yesterday I found some dinky little ones in the stationers which I couldn’t resist.

brown parcel tags

If you’ve got time and some hefty sharp scissors and a hole punch it would be more economical still to cut your own.  It’s time I never seem to have! Anyway having spent a happy half an hour with the box of ribbons and cord, buttons and bells, stamps and ink and of course the trusty glue gun I came up with these..

Brown decorated tags for Advent Calendar

The other tags are available to download and print if you have access to a printer…

printable tags for Advent Calendar

(apologies for quality of the photos)

The links are on the Botanical Paperworks Blog  the SassandPeril website and there are a vast variety of tags on Examiner.com

Have fun, I hope this is useful!  I’ll be back tomorrow although the blog post will be a challenge as Tim’s coming home and is making threatening noises about going back to Norwich for my Christmas present!  You never know, we might bump into each other in Follies!

 

Sew Over It – Book Review

Sew Over It by Lisa Comfort This is the second of the books I was sent to review a few weeks ago, and it’s timely to do so now as Lisa Comfort has recently appeared in Kirstie Allsop’s new Channel 4 Show, Kirstie’s Vintage Home. Sew over it Shop I grew up in the era when home skills were taught in school, Domestic Science, we learnt to sew, dress-make and cook.  I do have to admit to being hopeless whilst at school, but as a young married mum without a lot of cash it soon made sense to have the skills to repair and alter clothes, recycle dresses into baby clothes and run up a pair of curtains.  Most women’s  magazines had knitting patterns, some gave away paper patterns for dress making and amazing part work series were published teaching all sorts of skills from embroidery to macrame!  (Such a useful skill – macrame plant pot holder anyone?)

All that seemed to get swept away in a great feminist rage against being hemmed in by domesticity to the point where you had to hide any desire to occupy yourself with a little light embroidery, and ‘homemade’ was considered an insult.  Schools did away with cookery classes and sewing lessons and a whole generation were left without useful life skills such as sewing on a button or cooking.

That’s why I’m loving this whole re-emergence of making and upcycling, creating and recycling which is movement of the moment and Lisa Comfort’s book fits right in as an ideal starting point for anyone wanting to dip their toe in the creativity pool. Lisa Comfort in Sew Over It Shop Lisa charts her beginnings from stitching with her child-minder through the London College of Fashion to her sewing café and shop in Clapham, South London where she teaches the skills to be found in this book. If you’ve never threaded a needle let alone sewn on a button, never fear. Lisa starts you off at the very beginning introducing you to the needle and thread, the mysteries of the sewing machine, customising and altering your clothes, making accessories and finally measuring yourself and making a skirt from scratch.

Sew Over It Contents PAge

This is not a book for a seasoned dressmaker but I would definitely recommend this to a complete sewing novice needing a virtual hand to hold and guidance starting out on their sewing journey.  Probably it would be helpful to have a hands on lesson if you’ve never used a sewing machine but I believe shops like John Lewis offer this when you buy a machine from them.  Apart from that, all that is needed is a little imagination and Lisa’s know how and tips. The projects are clearly illustrated and explained, and the book as a whole is colourful and appealing, the photography is inspiring, a great Christmas present idea for a aspiring stitcher !

The ‘Sew Over It’ book is published by Ebury Press and available to buy from Lisa’s on-line shop of the same name, (which is a rather dangerous place to visit if you happen to like fabrics, and buttons, and haberdashery….)