Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew….

Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub…the Trumpton Firemen.  I’ve got very fond memories of watching Trumpton year after year as my children were growing up and this was my favourite moment.  There was never a fire in Trumpton, just cats up trees and things floating down the river.

Anyway, Pugh, Pugh et al came round to my house last night, and this time there was a fire!

Just after 9 last night I became aware of a roaring noise, which wasn’t the wind, and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the wooden beam over the fireplace was ablaze.

And how silly was the thought, ‘Oh, I can’t call 999, that’s for emergencies’ ?!  Well if having your house on fire isn’t an emergency…

Anyway I did call, and by the time I’d finished talking they assured me a team was on the way and to get out of the room.  Higgins and I stood out in the back garden listening for the approaching siren and soon the lane was filled with a big appliance and blue flashing lights.

Six burly firefighters strode in and quickly and efficiently emptied the stove, hauled out the burning debris from above and squirted water up the chimney.  And hung around to make sure that everything was cooling off and not going to start up again.

2014-03-19 21.32.28It was really not how I envisaged spending the evening!

(And for all my female friends who got terribly excited about the whole hunky firefighter thing, in a situation like this hunkiness pales into insignificance alongside handiness with a stirrup pump and a bucket of water….Thank goodness they didn’t bring the hose in!)

Higgins thought that having an influx of nice people who like dogs was a great idea however…

2014-03-19 21.51.15By eleven o’clock they had left, satisfied all was safe, leaving a wet sooty mess which I decided I would tackle in the morning.

2014-03-19 22.44.03You can see the knothole in the beam where the fire started to come through from the back, and it’s only today, after not a lot of sleep and so feeling very tired, that I started on the ‘what ifs’.  I know that’s not a good idea but so hard not to think that it could have happened after I’d gone to bed.  And in the normal way of things I would have been at a meeting last night, at just the time I spotted the blaze…

I’m NOT going to think about it…

Higgins rarely sleeps in our bed as he likes to get under the covers and lick knees (yuck) but last night after his pre-bedtime visit to the garden he rushed straight to the bottom of the stairs to be carried up.  Obviously determined not to be left downstairs in the soot and chaos.  And this is how I was greeted this morning…IMG_20140320_070402

Maybe worth having wet knees after all!

Hopefully the next post will be cheerier, with prettier pictures. Don’t forget this weekend someone will win the Box of Delights!

See you soon…x

Filling the Box of Delights

It’s just a little bit scary how the time gallops away, isn’t it?  I’ve got a camera full of photos and so much to say, and yet every day this week I’ve failed to get the necessary time at the keyboard to write a post.

Never mind, I shall tackle one thing at a time and this is very overdue news about the Box of Delights that I have been putting together for the 500 posts giveaway which I wrote about here.  I have felt overwhelmed by the lovely comments which have been left, I do thank you so much.  And I have been particularly touched by people who say that they haven’t been following for long but have read their way all the way back to the beginning.  Whenever I have a blogging lack of confidence I shall go back and read those posts to motivate myself to keep going!

Because I have readers from all over the world I wanted to make the Box of Delights of a size which would make it possible to post it to anywhere with a reliable postal service so I have customised a box especially.  It’s been so long since I exercised these particular crafting muscles that I was a little unsure of myself, but I have painted and lined and glued and created a little repository for all manner of small things.

The inside looks like this.

lined boxI’ve lined it with may favourite of the Planet Penny Cotton fabrics.

And in it I’ve put a butterfly…

Crochet butterfly for Box of Delights…crocheted with the PP cotton yarn.  A mini needlefelt sheep…

needlefelt sheep -Box of Delights…because sheep are a bit special on Planet Penny!  There’s a reminder of the Dolly Peg Dolls with this length of vintage lace…

Dolly Peg and vintage lace…A fat quarter of the cotton fabric…

fat quarter Planet Penny Cotton Fabric… a string of the beads I love to use…

beads…and some vintage Mother of Pearl buttons…Mother of Pearl buttonsI’ve had a fascination over the last couple of weeks for covering match boxes (more of that in another post) so here’s one with some covered thumb tacks for your pin board…

thumb tacks…and this one which I had a lovely time painting.  If you are wondering what’s inside, I’m not saying!  It’s a secret…

Secret Garden Matchbox - Flow…and finally there’s a crochet heart, as a reminder of the Hearts and Flowers Mobile

crochet heart…and if you would like some flowers there’s a length of Planet Penny Cotton in every one of the rainbow shades so you can crochet your own!

Box of Delights Planet Penny CottonSo everything fits in perfectly…Box of Delights filled..and it just requires a lid…

Box of Delights with lidAll it needs is a home. Would you like it?  There is still time to enter the Giveaway by leaving a comment on this post, it’s running till next weekend.

I’m off now to do some cooking.  I have my chum Kit coming round for supper and I’ve been delving through my cook books to find something delicious and fuss free, Nigella has come up trumps with a roasting tin filled with chicken, chorizo and other yummy things.   I’ll let you know if I manage to channel my inner ‘domestic goddess’!

See you soon…x

The Year in Books – February

Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro - A Year in Books

Elegance – by Kathleen Tessaro

Slightly belatedly, I’m here to report that February’s book for the reading project The Year in Books has been read!  This is a rather battered copy which I borrowed from my mum, again, because it’s not the first time I have read it.  It’s one of those comfort reads, which you turn to when you need something soothing and familiar.  I enjoyed it just as much the second time round and I thoroughly recommend it.

If you’ve ever thought a self-help book could turn your life around, you could just be right!  This is what Amazon had to say about it…

The Sunday Times bestseller and one of the most talked-about novels of 2003..

Elegance. Audrey Hepburn had it. Grace Kelly had it. Louise Canova does not.

Until one day, browsing in a second-hand bookshop, Louise stumbles over a faded hardback. Elegance is an A–Z of style, written by French fashion expert, Madame Antoine Dariaux: a veritable what-not-to-wear in print.

When Louise starts to follow Madame’s advice, her life is transformed. From Accessories to Zippers, there is nothing Madame cannot advise upon, including types of husband (the blind, the ideal, the dictator) and shopping with girlfriends (don’t).

Within the book’s pages Louise finds clues to her own past. And as she begins to unravel them, she discovers a courage she never thought possible. For true elegance cannot be attained until she is comfortable in her own skin: only then might love flourish.

My book for March is ‘The House on Paradise Street’ by Sofka Zinovieff…

The House on Paradise Street by Sofka ZinovieffWhich, as I become absorbed by it, is proving to be a darker but very compelling story.  A real contrast, which was just what I needed.

Before I go, I want to say that I have been completely touched and overwhelmed by the lovely comments which have been left on my last post about my 500 posts milestone.  Thank you one and all for so many kind and encouraging words, it’s really given me the impetus to carry on!

I’m assembling a little pile of pretty bits and pieces for the Box of Delights, but first I have to create the box itself, cue much research into the best size for potentially sending overseas.  I think I’ve got it right, so I’m off now to have a lovely time with glue and paper and paint and ink, what a great excuse!  Have you entered the giveaway yet?!

See you soon…x

 

 

500 Blog Posts…?

Goodness Gracious me!  It doesn’t seem possible that it was 2007 that I wrote my first tentative post, and followed up with my first recorded finished project…

sampler crochet blanket

I’ve spent the last couple of days scrolling through all the posts and collecting images from each year.  (And saying to myself…’was it THAT long ago?…how time flies…sigh’)  It’s been quite a good indicator of my changing interests and how things have developed.  My first year was quite transitional.  I started our local Knit and Stitch group,  Higgins arrived, I made my first forays into dyeing and discovered the delights of a good compact digital camera with lots of photos of the garden, flowers and nature.

2009montage

2009

The following year I discovered the rainbow loveliness to found at a budget price with Stylecraft yarn.  Got my felting needles out again after a bit of a lull after graduating and my new studio was built.

2010montage

2010

There was a lot needlefelting in 2011.  I had a stall at the Pickn’Mix Makers Market and took part in Open Studios for the first time…

2011montage copy

2011

Big things happened in 2012.  We had a lovely family wedding, Open Studios again and I discovered the Planet Penny cotton and opened my little online shop. I wrote my first patterns and got invited to few exciting events.

2012montage copy

2012

2013 was more of the same, with some needlefelting workshops to run into the bargain, and a new Art Trail for Open Studios…

2013montage

2013

And this year, with a new member of family and lots of other plans, is shaping up quite nicely too!

2014montage

2014 – the story so far!

But what has made it all so special is you.  All you out there who visit, and comment and sign up to follow.  Who leave comforting messages when things are difficult and encouraging remarks .

Writing this blog has meant I’ve met up with like minded people, and also been in touch with people from the other end of of the country and the other side of the world.  It’s an amazing privilege, and a lot of fun!

So I’m planning a very special thank you.

I’m going to create a  Box of Delights and fill it with the essence of what Planet Penny is all about. Little bits and pieces of everything I do.  So there will be some yarn and fabric, ribbons and bindings, beads and buttons, ooh, all sorts of small bits of loveliness!

I’m going to be putting the box together over the next couple of weeks and sharing it so you can see what will be inside.  I’m really looking forward to it!

And then?  I’m going to give it away…to one of you.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post to take part.  Maybe say something about yourself, about what you do, why you visit Planet Penny (maybe you come to play with Higgins!) The only stipulation is that it’s a)non-offensive and b)it’s not of the ‘me,me, pick me’ variety (you have to do a little work!)

I’ll do the draw when I’ve filled the box, and no, I don’t know how big the box is yet!  And it’s open to everyone.  If you have a standard postal service in your country I will send it there if your name come out of the hat!

I’m off to the studio now to start looking through all the goodies I have stored in boxes, tins and baskets, and hopefully a by-product of the Box of Delights will be a tidy studio.  (Well, I can dream!)

See you soon…x

It’s oh, so Quiet….

…here in the cyberspace version of Planet Penny.  But in the real world it’s oh, SO hectic!

I have a full house.  All the family are here for the weekend, all planned so that they could meet the latest family member who was due on Valentines Day.

Trouble was, the family  punctually arrived on Thursday, and the little one was far too warm and comfy where he was to put in an appearance. There might even have been an element of hiding away from this mob of new aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents!

However yesterday, after a long night, day and evening for his poor mum and anxious dad, baby Arthur arrived safe and well.  This meant cracking open the champagne at 11 o’clock last night (and feeling a little worse for wear this morning) Well you have to, don’t you?

So if I’m not around here on Planet Penny for a few days, you’ll understand why,   I’ll be back very soon.

I’ll leave you with the story so far on my Green Man project.  There a way to go yet but I’m pleased to find that my efforts to match him to the cherry trees in the garden have worked well. I don’t think I’d like to come across him in a misty woodland at dusk, do you?

Needlefelt Green Man for NNOS 2014See you soon…x

 

It’s a Jungle Out There

This isn’t the post I planned to write, but I think it needs to be written, both for the people like me with small businesses trying to make things work, and for our potential customers.

Just as I was going to bed last night I had a message from a fellow Etsy member, for which I am so grateful.  It was to alert me to the fact that one of my patterns was for sale via a European site similar to Etsy.  The person who got in touch had found one of her own items for sale in the shop, and spotted my Mini Mice pattern.

The shop had about 14 patterns for sale, and presumably they had all been similarly ‘shoplifted’ from Etsy, Folksy or similar, assembled together for the benefit of this unscrupulous person.  I hate to think that person is a customer of mine, but he/she would have to have access to the original pattern, perhaps borrowed from a friend?  Who knows…

But not only did they help themselves to my pattern, they also copied all my photos from the Etsy listing, and copied and pasted the description too.  Completely shameless!

It’s theft…

It was quite peculiar finding a picture with my eggcup on my tablecloth on a completely strange site!

mini mouse Planet Penny - Etsy

I have emailed the shopping site with this information and await their response.  I’ve also sent a message to the…..the…words fail me!.. PERSON who perpetrated the crime.  I don’t expect a reply to that however!

This is so unfair.  I don’t mean to me personally, but to everyone who has beavered away creating something unique, who is trying to make a small business pay it’s way, trying to realise the dream of making a living from their own endeavours.  It’s only been possible since the advent of the internet and it’s been an amazing opportunity for so many people.  Unfortunately it’s also created many opportunities for underhand, dishonest people to coast along on the backs of a lot of hard working makers and crafters.

I’m not sure what can be done to protect our work.  Etsy shows a warning every time an item is listed…

By adding files to this listing, you guarantee that you have rights to the content. Etsy may remove content per our Copyright and IP Policy, at which point buyers may not be able to access purchased files. See our Terms for more information.

….so I presume this is similarly stated by other sites, and if they are informed that someone is contravening this one hopes they take action.

And we can look out for each other as my fellow Etsy member did.  We can pass on any information or suspicions which we spot and try and nip these things in the bud.  Whether you are a maker or a buyer, this affects us all.

It has concentrated my mind on the thing I’ve been chuntering about for ages and not doing, adding watermarks to my photos.  I use Photoshop, and although I had made a watermark layer, it was a bit fiddly and I’ve been lazy about it.  Today however I found a handy little You Tube video which made things very much easier.  By turning  the watermark into a preset brush it’s the work of a moment to add it to any photo.  If Photoshop is your thing you can find the video here.

It’s a pity as it doesn’t enhance the image but as I’ve also had pictures turning up without any link on Pinterest I think they are a necessary evil!

Planet Penny Mini Mice - EtsyAs things stand at the moment, the offending shop has been suspended and I don’t want to go down the road of naming and shaming but I think it’s something we should all be aware of, don’t you?

I’ll be back soon with a happier post.  I’ve been beavering away with my Green Man and he’s progressing nicely, I can’t wait to show you!

See you soon…x