Category Archives: Craft

A Weekend of Dyeing and Weaving with Aviva Leigh

natural dyesLast weekend I went off to reboot my creative vibe, which has been languishing under a layer of brick dust for far too long!  I trotted along to the Norwich studio of Aviva Leigh to spend an inspirational day dyeing with natural dyes to transform a variety of yarns,  followed by a day of mastering a knitter’s loom to create a piece of woven cloth.

We were fortunate that it was a small group, just the three of us in our rubber gloves and pinnies, oohing and aahing as Aviva introduced us to the magic of dyeing with plant leaves, woodchips, pomegranate skins and even crushed beetles! yarn for dyeing - Aviva Leighdye baths - Aviva LeighAviva Leighcrushed beetles - natural dye - cochinealIn my mind natural dyes were soft and subtle, but it’s astonishing how vibrant some of the colours are.dyed wool - Aviva Leigh workshopIt’s also interesting to realise that the building in which  Aviva has her studio is in the heart of the historic textile area of Norwich where the river used to run red with the waste from the dyeing factories.

By the end of the first day our heads were spinning with information!  So much to take in about the history, the geography and chemistry of natural dyes.  Aviva assured us that the following day would be relaxing and mindful, leaving the steamy atmosphere of the dyeing studio to weave our wool samples into cloth.indigo and pomegranate - natural dyesThere were just two of us the next day and it’s a very small world because we discovered that my fellow student follows Planet Penny – so, Hello Tracy!! We had a wonderful day experimenting with colours and textures and different effects.weaving workshop with Aviva Leigh  So much so that we both headed home having bought our looms, despite both of us saying the last thing we need is yet another craft.  It’s just so addictive.weaving workshop with Aviva LeighAutumn weavingI’m itching to get my loom ready for some more experiments but I will have to wait until I have fewer builders in the house.  Today there are four, it feels a bit like DIY SOS! But we really are on the home straight now, despite the fact that we’ve just discovered the new back door fits the aperture, but won’t actually open…ho hum…

I’ll be back soon…x

 

The Merry Month of May

Merry Month of MayMay is my favourite month, full of promise and optimism.  Here in Norfolk the hedgerows are bursting with new leaves and blossom and it won’t be long before the verges are frothy with Queen Anne’s Lace.

Here, in the corner of a field where Planet Penny orbits, there’s a lot going on.  Next month the builders move in to build an extension, which will be wonderful when it is done, and a complete nightmare while it’s underway!  I’m having a little practice today; as I type I have a man in my garden building a greenhouse.  So far I have only had to make one coffee, one tea and one trip to the builders merchants.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about it though.  We live in such a windy spot and so far we’ve had three mini greenhouses and two rotary washing lines mangled by the wind, and the second hand greenhouse I was given was folded flat by Storm Doris before we even got the glass in.

This time my darling OH said we’re getting a really strong one and so what’s going up is one of theseRhino Greenhouse…which as it has been very rudely pointed out to me, I can sit on during the next storm to keep it in place!

So watch out for me putting on my Alys Fowler hat and getting excited about growing things, whilst also doing all sorts of styling with bunting and fairy lights (which is the bit the dear OH is most worried about)

So, talking about flowers, I’ve currently had a bit of an obsession with making paper ones.  What started me off was Mollie Makes’ The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon and  Lia Griffiths tutorial on making paper peonies.  Frankly, it’s not the best obsession for me…all that scissor work really annoys my cranky thumb joint…but I just can’t help it.  An evening spent catching up on TV whilst cutting out the petals, off to bed after rubbing ibuprofen gel on said joint and then a joyful hour the next day with the glue gun and wire making a gorgeous bloom.I’m now eagerly awaiting a delivery of nicer crepe paper, finer and more subtle in colour so watch this space.crepe paper flowerThe magazine has sold out now, but I have a spare copy which I would love to pass on to one of you lovelies out there…big comic relief crafternoon…so just leave a comment and next week I will put all the names into a virtual hat Random Number Generator to find a winner. An opportunity to have a sore thumb just like me, and fill your home with paper flowers. Or to be more sensible and chill out in a pompom beard!

I’ll be back before then though, I have another project to share.

See you soon…x

My Knitted Doll Blog Hop – Book Review

My Knitted Doll BookA little while ago I was asked by Sew and So if I would like to join in with a Blog Hop and review the new book, My Knitted Doll.

Now I have to admit I wasn’t immediately sure because from past experience I found knitted dolls to be, well, a bit twee.  However, I was sent some pictures and I have to admit, I fell in love!  Louise Crowther‘s take on the knitted doll is just so darn cute!Martha - My Knitted Doll

There are patterns for twelve different dolls, including a boy, and every one has their own individual wardrobe.  I really like the way the book is presented too; each doll has their own story and name.  I think my only criticism is that I would like more boys and boys clothes, but there is lots of scope to adapt the patterns and to make a special person their own Mini Me.

The patterns in My Knitted Doll are very clear and all the techniques are covered in the back of the book with lots of photos and explanations.

The book is published in November but I was sent a PDF copy to review and couldn’t wait to get the needles out and start knitting.  I chose Jane.  This is Louise Crowther’s version…Jane - My Knitted Doll…and this is mine…My Knited Doll - Planet Penny yarnAnd the added bonus?  Planet Penny yarn is perfect for all the patterns!  So I have a hard copy of the book on pre-order and I shall be knitting my way through it for birthdays and Christmas pressies, if I can bear to part with them!

Find Out More…

There’s a sneak peek below, and HERE you can pre-order My Knitted Doll and get the e-book free!

Find out more on the links below …
Tuesday 11th October – Interview with Louise Crowther on SewandSo
Wednesday 12th October – Eskimimi Makes
Thursday 13th October – The Creations of Crazy Dazy
Friday 14th October – Planet Penny

You can follow the blog hop on the Sew and Sew Facebook page and on Instagram using #MyKnittedDoll.  I’m really looking forward to see everybody’s different versions.  Do tag me if you join in!

Have a lovely weekend, I’ll be back soon…x

An office in the sun!

Well, this is a rare occurrence,  Higgins and I have moved outside.  We’re on the veranda outside the studio, there’s blue sky, sunshine, flowers, birdsong…What could be better?office_in_the_sun

Only last week we were huddled under a blanket (in Higgins case, three blankets) watching the rain lash down so I’m making the most of every minute now.

There is just one weekend left of Open Studios here in Norfolk and it’s been good, as usual.  Really nice to meet the people who come to visit who are really interested in what we do, and in who, in turn, have interesting stories to tell.  Higgins has been working well with the meeting and greeting, he even had an assistant!Higgins&CocoIt did get very tiring in the end though…tired Higgins

I have been been diligent in my decluttering efforts.  So many things which I have made in order to create patterns, but eventually I have to reluctantly part with them in order to make room in the studio, and in my head, for new ideas.

It’s not easy! The knitting mobile has been sold…Knitters Mobile from Planet Penny

it’s off to Germany as a present.

And the Hearts and Flowers Mobile is off to grace a little ones bedroom which is lovely.  It’s nice to know it will have a good home.

Hearts and Flowerts Mobile from Planet PennyQuite a few little needlefelted pieces have been sold too, although I’m not going to part with Clover the sheep!

Flock of needlefelt sheep - Planet Penny

Clover is the one in the middle!

So if you are in the area next weekend do call in.  There’s bunting and baubles and fairy lights and books too!  I’m never going to rival decluttering queen Marie Kondo, but I’m trying!

Back soon…x

The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon Magazine and Miranda Mouse

 

 The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon magazineHave you bought your copy of the Big Comic Relief Crafternoon Magazine yet? It’s a brilliant idea for raising money for Comic Relief and it’s been soo incredibly popular that there’s going to be a reprint, so keep a look out at your local branch of Sainbury’s for a copy soon.

The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon Magazine back cover

You can find out which branches are stocking the magazines here and you can even download a copy! The Mollie Makes Blog tells you all you need to know.

I spent a lovely morning yesterday with fellow crafter, blogger and chum Emma Mitchell, who dreamed up the magazine.  When she’s not having brilliant flashes of inspiration, Emma makes wonderful silver jewellery and I was so lucky to spend time on a workshop with her.  (and that’s a whole other post!)

I bet you are wondering where a mouse called Miranda fits in to all this by now, aren’t you? Well, I fell in love with one of the projects in the magazine, Jenny Dixon‘s adorable little mice…

Jenny Dixon Mice

…and you know I like mice, crafty ones anyway!

So I decide to make my own version of Jenny’s little lovelies to sell to raise money for Comic Relief.  And here she is, Miranda Mouse…

Miranda Mouse - raising funds for Comic Relief 2015

Miranda is just 9.5cm tall and wears a pretty flowered cotton dress trimmed with vintage lace.  Her cardie is knitted from embroidery thread using 2mm needles (which was quite a challenge!) and fastened with a mother-of-pearl button. She’s been out in the garden picking roses…

Bag of Ribbon roses…to fill her little cross-stitch bag.

Cross-stitch Mouse Bag

And has even made her face Funny for Money with her own needlefelt Red Nose!

Miranda Mouse raising funds for Comic Relief

Please note that Miranda Mouse is an ornament and is not intended as a toy as she contains small parts.

I would really like to find Miranda Mouse a happy home.  Comic Relief does incredible work in this country and Africa so this is my proposal, a virtual auction…

The highest bid to arrive in the comments before Red Nose Day on the 13th March will win and every penny will be sent to Comic Relief. I will cover the postage and Miranda will be yours.

If you want to do some fund raising of your own, the Big Comic Relief Crafternoon Magazine has everything you need, and if you would like to donate to this wonderful charity, please bid for Miranda, she’s waiting for you!

 

 

A Christmas Village – electric tea light holders

Over the last couple of years I have created an Advent Countdown here on Planet Penny. However this year, along with other bloggers and makers, I have been invited to take part in the Cotton Traders Advent Calendar with a Christmas crafty make – tea light holders.

Nordic Houses |electric tea light holders | PDF pattern | Christmas Craft

So, as I’ve always a soft spot for tiny houses, and as so much of the Christmas tradition is centred around home and family what better way to celebrate the festive season than with your own little hamlet of cosy cottages as tea light holders?

Materials 

  • Card, suitable for printing, I used 160gsm.
  • PDF pattern
  • Scissors
  • Craft Knife
  • Cutting Mat
  • Glue stick
  • Battery operated tea lights

Method

Print off the PDF of the house onto the card.  A whole village if you like!

Cut round the outline with scissors or craft knife.  Cutting out the windows is much more easily done with the craft knife.

Cut out a rectangle in card 15cm x 9cm for the roof. Mark the central point on the long edge on both sides and very lightly score across to mark the fold line for the ridge on the roof.  Fold.

Using the craft knife, very lightly score along the fold lines on the unprinted side of the card to help make the finished shape nice and crisp.

Fold along the score lines, glue the tabs and stick together and stick together into the house shape.

Then make some more!

I’ve only recently been converted to battery tea lights because I love the natural light of candles.  However there is no denying the dangers of having flames all round the room especially with small children, and these little houses are great for a family crafting afternoon.

I like simple white for a touch of Nordic style, but print off a few sheets and let the children loose with paints and crayons, glue and glitter before cutting out for a riot of festive colour!

Have fun! If you’d like to show off your own version, do send in your photos and I will share then here on the blog.

Happy crafting!

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