Category Archives: Gardens

When not in textile mode my other passion is gardening and my garden

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…

Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios 2013

It’s hard to believe this is the third year we have taken part in Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios, but then it’s always hard to get one’s head round how quickly time flies.   This weekend will be the last for this year so we’re really hoping the weather stays kind and encourages lots of people to drive out into our beautiful Norfolk countryside to visit us.

Norfo0lk and Norwich Open Studios PosterIf you are a regular visitor to Planet Penny you will know I share my studio with my good friend Kit,  a printer, for the purposes of Open Studios.  It makes it more fun and more manageable when several people arrive at once and we both know enough about each others work to be able to talk about it.  (Although I wouldn’t recommend anyone goes away and attempts etching after an explanation from me!)

I know only a handful of people reading this will be able to visit so this is virtual invitation to our studio so you can see what’s been going on over the past couple of weeks.

This is the studio, through the archway.

Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios
It looks so much better when the sun shines!
Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios - garden

The Japanese Maple which last year formed part of the wedding decorations (which you can see in this post) is now a great place to display the felted  ‘River Rocks’ which were first exhibited as part of the Bergh Apton Sculpture Trail several years ago…

Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios 2013Inside, it’s so tidy! It’s lovely, I wish it would last!

studio inside

Can you see the tell tale streak across the mat?  Well, for once it wasn’t Higgins.  The very first day, dead on 10 o’clock when we were officially open, the little oil filled radiator which we had been huddling round because it was so ridiculously cold went POP and leaked hot oil all over the floor!   Several teatowels were sacrificed in the frantic mopping up and that trail was created as we dragged the darn thing outside where it dribbled over the gravel.

Not a good start and I’ve had to dispose of the mat which I rather liked.  Never mind, next week I’m having vinyl laid which will withstand tidal waves of hot oil as well as muddy little paws!

interior studio NNOS 2013

Oh gosh, have you noticed Higgins has crept in yet again?  Not what I intended but since he’s here I’ll just say he’s well rested now and is all geared up to greet his public should they feel inclined to visit him over the coming weekend.  You’ll find general details of Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios on the website, and our Art Trail in particular on the Two Rivers Trail website.

miniature dachshund

 

After this weekend I hope to get back to a more normal blogging routine.  Coming up next time is another book review.  A gorgeous new publication and the chance to win your very own copy. If you haven’t signed up to follow  Planet Penny yet now might be a good time so you don’t miss out on a prize!

I’ll be back very 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

Sunshine and Flowers

Suddenly it’s Spring!  It’s such an overwhelming change too, after a winter which seemed to go on forever.  The daffodils at the side of the road, resolutely green and tight budded, responded to the sunshine so immediately you could practically hear the sound of popping as they opened.  There’s now a definite green tinge to the brown twigginess of the hedgerows, in a few days Spring will really be busting out all over!

It’s been another busy week, which started with a trip to London.  I went to meet the Pinterest Team, who came over from the US to organise a campaign with selected bloggers.  And they selected me!  Very honoured by that, and very surprised!  Anyway, it all happens in May and I look forward to telling you all about it then.

With a little time to spare, I wandered round and went off to see St Paul’s, knowing that  in  a couple of days I would be seeing it on the news during the coverage of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.  I was too late to go inside, but it is a very beautiful and imposing building, especially with the blossom and late afternoon sunshine.

St Paul's Cathedral, blossom & sunshine

Back home, Open Studios is fast approaching.  We’ve picked up boxes of brochures and postcards and tomorrow we’re off to the Forum in Norwich with our pieces for display in the Taster Exhibition which is on from Tuesday to Friday.   I mentioned in this post that I was making a website for our Art Trail so if you would like to know more about us call over to the Two Rivers Trail (and watch out for the gorilla!)

I’m longing to find time to get out in the garden like some others I could mention…

miniature dachshund sunbathing

…and Higgins isn’t the only one enjoying the sunshine out there either…

butterfly in sunshine

…but at the moment I tend to just wander round with a cup of tea and a camera in my tea breaks.

grape hyacinths in sunshine

These little Grape Hyacinths have survived remarkably well considering they are on one of Higgins’ routes round the garden and he’s trodden on them regularly for months!

cowslips & aubretia in sunshine

forget-me-knots

daffs&grapehyacinthsI’ve done nothing in the vegetable patch, so this little pansy has taken advantage and moved in…

pansy in the sunshine

I skived off from working for a couple of hours this morning to visit the beach.  We’ve not been for ages as we’ve had weeks of Arctic winds blowing straight of the sea and I didn’t think it would do my sinuses much good!  It hasn’t done the beach much good either, as our miles of pale gold sand has been scoured off and deposited elsewhere.  The level of the beach must be about 15 feet lower, and there are pools and stretches of clay.

clay exposed by coastal erosion - Norfolk

The huge chunks of granite which are part of the sea defences and normally partially hidden in the sand are exposed, and it was quite a feat of mountaineering to get over the top and on to the next stretch of beach.

Norfolk beach in sunshineHiggins really enjoyed the pools…

dachshund in the pool..and also discovered the most revolting bit of flotsam…or even jetsom..in the shape of a baby’s dummy.  He smelt it from about 20 feet away, made a bee line for it and carried it all the way back to the car to put in his toy box!

miniature dachshund

So this is why I haven’t finished the project that was going to be my Hand Made Monday feature!  I’m sure you don’t begrudge me a trip to the seaside though, and I will get back in the next few days when it’s done.  I have also taken deliver of a fresh batch of Planet Penny yarn which I need to get back on to the Etsy site so it really is busy, busy, busy at the moment.

Don’t forget, there is still time to join in with draw for a copy of The Knitted Home by Ruth Cross.  Just visit the post here, and leave your knitting story in the comments.  Do take a moment to read some of the stories which have already been left, some of them really raise a giggle.

Back soon…x

 

Feeling Blue…and Grey.

dry mud

This is a post in two halves because I’ve had a few days where my usual Pollyanna disposition has been conspicuous by it’s absence.  I’ve been in two minds too, as to whether to even write the post but in the end I felt that appearing relentlessly upbeat  is probably a tad annoying and maybe letting on about the down times is a good thing (occasionally)

gloomy skies and feeling blue

It’s not been helped by the weather.  Not just the cold, but the unrelenting gloom.  I don’t function well under sullen grey skies and feel like I’m carrying the weight of them around balanced on the top of my head.  I know this means I’m feeling blue but I love blue, and grey, well not so much.

Add to this an M.E. flare up, my other half being in the middle of the North Sea and the boys heading off back home to the South Coast it’s been a bit grim round here, I’ve definitely been Mrs Grumpy.

footpath and grey skies - feeling blueBut today there was sunshine.

Norfolk Sky - feeling blue

The aches and pains have subsided a little so I could enjoy my walk with Higgins properly and I could almost see the flowers in the garden opening…

purple crocus

primroses

periwinkle

yellow crocus

Apparently the Met Office consider March 1st as the first day of Spring, so the end is in sight.  Lets hope it sweeps the grey away!

I celebrated the sunshine by announcing an upcoming Facebook Giveaway which will happen when I reach the 2000 ‘likes’ milestone so if you’d like the join in the link is here.

crochet flowers on a plate…and I also indulged in some silliness with a little sheep.  I retired the sheep I’d had on my keyring for some years when I changed my car and swapped it for a crochet heart keyring, but despite looking a little battered and tired I couldn’t bear to part with her.

So after a quick wizz around in the washing machine she has now been spruced up and given another car based role.  Together with her knitting she’s going back in the car to sit on the dashboard to bring a spot of Planet Penny colour to what is alas, a grey car!

knitting sheep

Next step, a crochet cushion or two!

Back soon …x

 

Chilling out on Planet Penny

Brrrr, it’s sooo cold!  I’m ensconced in my little Planet Penny office wearing my Boneyard scarf

Boneyard scarf

wrapped several times round my neck, the pink version of the wrist warmers and with a cup of hot lemon and ginger tea to hand.  Apart from the miserable weather a lot of it is to do with sitting still too much, needlefelting, crocheting and winding wool, or tapping on a keyboard does not generate enough heat!  Tim’s on dog walking duty while I finalise the craft fair bits and pieces, so at least he and Higgins are getting proper exercise.

The needlefelting?  Well it’s robins as usual!  I think I’ve got enough now to be going on with.  My latest version, and I think my favourite, is attached to a wool covered crocodile clip which means it can be clipped on the branches of a Christmas tree, or a pot plant…

needlefelt robin on clip - Planet Penny

…he’s got a little button heart in his beak…

The crocheting, well I’ve made some tiny bunting, it’s great for using up left over Planet Penny cotton and would look lovely strung on shelves or a dresser.  For the moment I’ve just added it to my bunting and garland collection in the studio add a little colourfulness against the gloom…

crochet bunting in Planet Penny rainbow colours

crochet bunting and hearts in Planet Penny rainbow cotton

The winding has been for more rainbow mouse kits (this can be done in front of the fire watching Strictly Come Dancing so I did manage to thaw out a bit!)

cotton yarn in Planet Penny rainbow colours

And the tapping away on the computer was for my first proper book review which, if you missed it, is here.  It’s worth a look, it’s a fabulous book.

Finally, with Halloween around the corner, Higgins had a go at pumpkin carving yesterday.  When I came in with one to turn into pumpkin soup, Higgins when wild with excitement, convinced it was a football, just for him.

miniature dachshund and pumpkin

When I put down for him to check it out he made a huge effort to get his teeth in it…

miniature dachshund and pumpkin

But the disaster came when he finally managed to get it to roll.  It rumbled across the floor, hit a small table on which Tim had just placed a fresh cup of tea and knocked it flying, soaking poor Henry who was just passing.  What a good thing Henry has thick fur, just his dignity was hurt!

He managed to make quite an impression on the pumpkin before being bribed away with a doggy treat so I could hide it in the pantry!  (I now have a lot of soup, a lot of frozen pumpkin, and I still have half left.  I wonder if I can chop it up with dog food? And this was a small one!)

So for now I’ll leave you with the usual link to Handmade Monday and get back to work.  If you’re in Norfolk on Wednesday it would be lovely to see you at How Hill for the Craft Fair but if not, I’ll be back soon…x

 

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