Category Archives: Open Studios

The Hand-Stitched Home – Book Review

The Hand-Stitched Home - Cover

I promised you a lovely book to coo over and The Hand-Stitched Home by Caroline Zoob ticks all the boxes.

I’ve had very little time to exercise my sewing muscles lately and had rather forgotten how much I enjoy it so leafing through Caroline Arber’s beautiful photographs discovering the projects within was a real pleasure.

Do you hand sew?  Is it something you love or do out of necessity?  Sometimes it’s so easy just to get the sewing machine out and wizz around a few seams, or as I did over half term to piece together a spectacular tear on some nearly new tracksuit bottoms which had come off worse in a tree climbing related incident!

I had a very mixed introduction to the craft of stitching.  Being left handed my school experience was almost entirely negative.  Whole lessons miserably stitching a ‘blind’ hem with a length of thread grubby and grey from countless pulling out.  And, being made to wear a thimble on my right hand because that was where they were worn!  (I was nearly an adult before I found out what they were actually for!)  However, during the school holidays I stayed with my left-handed grandmother, Bam-mum (who never used a thimble)  and she introduced me to a love of stitching which has never gone away despite school’s best efforts.

Caroline Zoob’s book is all for pleasure, little hand-stitched treasures giving a new lease of life to vintage fabrics which then become part of the fabric of the home.  From tiny projects such as this Heart Key Fob…

Heart Key Fob - The Hand-Stitched Home…delicately stitched shelf edging…

Shelf edging - The Hand-Stitched Home..and pretty egg-cosy made from felted wool blanket fabric…

egg-cosy - The Hand-Stitched Home

..to larger pieces such as cushions, curtains and table runners there are plenty of ideas which you can use to inspire you to use and recycle pretty fabrics, trimmings, buttons and precious scraps of fabric.

Be aware that the instructions for some of the more complicated pieces do presume a fairly sound knowledge of basic sewing skills. However, this is book about hand stitching and embroidery and there is a lot of help and inspiration  for even a novice at decorative stitching.  And of course the joy of a book like this is that it is positive encouragement to go off and brush up on or learn new skills!

Vintage scraps - The Hand-Stitched Home

And what was my inspiration?  Well, it was daisies.  I’m planning to feature daisies in the next blog post for reasons which will be explained, but this was the image in the book which inspired me…

Daisy tree - The Hand-Stitched Home

It’s so pretty and simple.  I had a frame which I bought months ago in a closing down sale, and a remnant of linen so I spent a happy evening with my box of embroidery threads and this was the result…

Daisy tree 2 - Then Hand-Made Home

So, I’m sure you would love to get your hands on a copy of this book.  And you can because the lovely people at the Aurum Publishing Group have a copy to send to one lucky person.  It could be you!  I’d love to hear your sewing story, what got you stitching?   Was it love at first stitch, or a gradual blossoming?  Simply share your story in the comments, and next weekend you could be the winner!

This week I’m linking up again with Handmade Monday over on Handmade Harbour so follow the links there to discover lots more creative people and ideas.

I’m off to the studio now to get ready for the last day of Open Studios.  If you are in the area we’d love to see you, but if not I’ll be back here soon…x

 

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

A Quick Update…

Hellooo….have you been wondering where I’ve been?  It feels all wrong when I don’t fit a blog post in, but life has been sooo hectic over the past few days!

There’s been a lot celebrating going on, three big birthdays no less, and my elder grandson’s First Communion.  This involved a trip to the South coast of England via South Wales, a round trip of 730 miles over three days.  But it was lovely to catch up with friends and relatives we’ve not seen for years and it’s always good to have an excuse to enjoy cake and champagne!

champagne

Now we’re home, and in the run up to the first weekend of the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios so we’ve hit the ground running with preparations.  My gardener son did sterling work with pots and tubs in the studio courtyard while we were away.  I just hope we get enough sun to make all the buds pop open, there’s so much colourful potential just waiting to be enjoyed.

I’ve been to have a chat with Kay, of Arts Desire in Norwich, and we now have dates for two needlefelting workshops in June which is very exciting…

Needlefelt Workshops, Arts Desire, Norwich

It’s great to have a venue in the city because a morning’s needlefelting could be so easily fitted in to a Norfolk weekend break  that you don’t have to be a local to take part.  And Art’s Desire is such a great venue, do you remember this post?  I can’t help but treat myself or my nearest and dearest every time I pay a visit!

I hope to get to meet some of you over Open Studios if you are in the area.  We’ve got a great Art Trail this year,  there are eight of us taking part and we are a really diverse bunch.  You’ll find out all about us on the website, The Two Rivers Trail and I can promise you sheep, alpacas and gorillas as well as painting, printing, painting and textiles!

(By the way, if you are thinking a visit would be a good way of buying some yarn and avoiding the postal charges it would be as well to contact me in advance.)

So don’t worry if it’s a little quiet on the blog, it’s all happening in the real world!  And for those of you who are too far away to join in with what’s going on, not to worry.  There’s a new book review in the pipeline, and a very exciting Planet Penny project bubbling away which I’m hoping to bring together in the near future.  Plus, if you remember  my trip to London to meet the Pinterest team, well that’s all coming together next week as well!

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

All Sheep Shape…

daffodils in the sun for a Sheep shape post

Have you heard the sound of birds singing and  sheep dancing on Planet Penny this week?   It’s all because the sun is shining and I have finished my piece for the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios Taster Exhibition at the Forum in Norwich….yippee!   I’ve just looked back and found I published my Ta-daaa moment for the last piece almost exactly a year ago today, you can read it here.   And I said “This has existed in my head for so long it was rather a shock to realise that I hadn’t actually made it yet, so I’ve been working on it all week” And I can say exactly the same this year.  It’s amazing how a deadline focuses the mind!

But first, the sunshine.  It’s still not very warm, but it was a relief to wake up yesterday morning and realise the wind was not whistling in the chimney which it’s been doing for days.

frosty gardenI’ve had the doors open into the garden for the first time this year (and kept my fleece on) to let some fresh air into the house and Henry and Higgins have appreciated being able to wander in and out as they please.  Henry has a spot on a warm paving slab where in a few weeks he will be able to get spaced out on Cat Mint…

Tabby cat in the garden

…and Higgins parked himself under the bird feeder to make sure no pesky birds could get at the little dish of water I  put out for them.  He found it was particularly delicious, so much nicer than the inferior water in the dog bowl!

miniature dachshund

There’s a lot of bare earth in the garden, even the weeds are holding back, but there are patches of Spring to enjoy…

purple crocus

white crocuses

mixed crocuses

frilly daffodilAnd so to my big project for this week.  I really wanted to do something completely different this time, to step away of the bright colours, the crochet, the small things.  Also to challenge myself on the needlefelt front and make something much bigger than little birds and mice.    So I’ve used a very subdued palette…

sheep fleeceNatural Merino fleece with a background of charcoal grey.

So can you guess what I made? Well, of course it’s a sheep!

needlefelt sheep for NNOS 2013It’s actually quite hard to photograph and get the angle right…

needlefelt sheep for Taster Exhibition NNOS 2013

It’s called ‘How to Knit a Sheep’… (but please don’t ask me for a pattern!)

'How to Knit a Sheep' NNOS 2013

The knitted part starts off as unspun fleece and gradually reduces in thickness until it becomes  undyed 4 ply to knit the lacy part.

Needlefelt Sheep for NNOS 2013

knitting for 'How to Knit a Sheep' for NNOS 2013This has been a rare moment when the finished piece is almost the same as the picture in my head, hence the singing and dancing!  As you can imagine, I haven’t done a lot else this week but there are exciting Planet Penny things in the pipeline which I hope to share with you soon.

It’s Handmade Monday again this week so I’m linking up with Wendy for Handmade Monday over on Handmade Harbour  and I’ll be back very soon…x

 

 

Hearts and Flowers Mobile – The Reveal!

I can’t believe it’s taken me all week to get to the ‘big reveal’ for the Hearts and Flowers Mobile project I was working on last weekend.  I’ve spent a lot of time keeping metaphorical plates spinning and I’m so glad I’ve got the routine  of Handmade Monday to keep me ‘regular’, once a week at least!   I think if I was asked to pick just one piece of advice to give to someone trying to get their head around blogging it would be make a routine, and stick to it.  I know when I started out it was so easy to put off a post and then have so many photos, so many ideas that it would take a huge effort of will to sit down and turn it all into something potentially interesting to someone else.  Right now the mid week post keeps getting put off because of ‘stuff’ getting in the way, but I’m hanging on the the weekend post for dear life until everything settles down a bit.

We’ve had all sorts of weather thrown at us in the UK  over the past days, but I made the most of a brief mild spell to nip into the garden to see what was going on and found these…

snowdrops…with a little help from my friend!

mini dachshund &snowdrops

snowdrops

I love snowdrops.  They look so delicate and yet brave the elements every year to let us know that Springtime will arrive, eventually…

There is an old rhyme which says…

The snowdrop, in purest white array,

First rears it’s head on Candlemas Day.

Candlemas Day falls on the 2nd February, so it must be true!

Back indoors though it was rather a struggle to photograph my Hearts and Flowers Mobile.  Ideally I need a large blank space, a white corner of a room with no distracting background stuff going on.  But I live in a very small cottage, my studio is packed with things and the mobile is just under a metre or 3 feet long so I hope you’ll bear with me…

Hearts and Flowers Crc0het mobile blue

 

hearts and flowers mobile citrus

Hearts and Flowers mobile top

Hearts and Flowers mobile all 1

Hearts and Flowers Mobile in studio

I’ve used the garland pattern to make the hearts and flowers using the Planet Penny Cotton colours (the pattern and yarns are  available from the Etsy shop).  I’m very happy that it worked out exactly as I had pictured it, and that doesn’t happen very often!

It’s triggered another idea, so I hope I get time to make a start this week.  My other ongoing project is building a website for our entry in this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios.  This will be the third year that I and my friend Kit Calladine the printmaker will be taking part, but this time we are part of an art trail with six other local artists which is very exciting.   Before long I will put a link to the website so you can find out all about us, and hopefully some of you may even pay us a visit!

And this also means I must return to the felting needle.  I have a plan for a piece for the Taster Exhibition but it is very easy to have the image in your head for so long that you forget you haven’t actually made it yet!

So altogether I have quite a bit to keep me out of mischief , and I promise I won’t forget to call back here to tell you all about it!

Meanwhile, I shall leave you with a link to Handmade Harbour where after 6pm this evening (UK time) you will find lots of other busy crafters and makers taking part in Handmade Monday.

I’ll be back soon…x

 

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