2015 – Looking Back, and Moving Forward… to a Happy New Year

The last year hasn’t been easy in lots of ways and now is the time to look back, take stock and move into 2015, hopefully a Happy New Year.

2014 was the year we lost a very dear friend.  Bill was the husband of my partner-in-crime-and-Open-Studios, Kit.  Bill Calladine was an amazing artist, engineer, inventor, teacher with a quick wit, a lover of life.  After a life threatening condition was diagnosed at the beginning of the year he bravely coped with surgery, with paraplegia and infections until he lost his battle last autumn.  We still can’t believe he has gone and he’s left a big hole in so many lives.

This little picture is a treasure from Bill which I thought I would share with you.  I bought a tiny canvas from an art shop, only a couple of inches in size, and gave it to Bill joking that if I ever bought a William Calladine painting, this was the only size I could afford.  A few weeks later the canvas came back, beautifully framed and signed on the back.  A perfect little miniature!

Miniature painting by William Calladine

Life has been difficult for my mum, too. She is still not home after her fall at the end of August.  Her ankle has healed, but she’s very wobbly on her feet and is currently in in respite care in a care home about 4 miles away.  It’s such a difficult situation as she just wants to be in her own home, of course, but she also needs able bodied carers to be at the end of a buzzer.  I dread the thought of her being alone at home.

So of course, I feel so guilty because the care I’ve given her over the last few years is not going to be enough, and the the last few years have taken such a toll on me both physically and mentally.

Anyway, that’s the sad aspect of 2014. The big happy news was the arrival of our third adorable grandson last February. It’s hard to believe that this time last year we were all waiting expectantly for his arrival, and  already we are having to move low lying ornaments and cover the electric sockets and wires!

And that’s what I want to take into 2015, Happy.  I’ve noticed other blogs picking on a word to work with for the new year, Fun was one, I like that too.  But Planet Penny is meant to be cheerful place for me to be, and for you to visit.

Sometimes life is grim and it’s hard to find the positives, (especially in January!) but looking for that little moment, clear blue sky on a frosty morning, a bunch of daffodils, a baby’s giggle or a dog’s waggy tail and holding on to it will help get us through.

So I’d like to invite you to join me in holding on to your happy moments.  Starting next week there will be a Happy Friday link up. If you have a blog put your image from the week in a post with some words (or not) and link it here. If you don’t have a blog you can leave your happy moment in the comments.  I’ll be running it on Instagram too so you can join in there.  There will be full details of how to take part with the first Happy Friday post.

I’ll be back soon with crafty stuff and news and my usual ramblings but I’ll leave you with my favourite happy image from the last week, my ‘big’ grandsons with their Christmas scooters!

Scooters at Bexhill - Happy

photo: ©Thomas Taylor 2015

In the meantime I’d love to know if you are joining in with Happy Friday… and what brings happiness to you…!

See you soon…

Do You Mind if I Knit – Vanessa Cabban

Vanessa Cabban

Many of you will have read my tribute to Vanessa Cabban in this post, and I was not surprised by the depth of feeling expressed by so many people on reading about her tragic death.

Fellow blogger and friend, Lisa of Bobobun has had a similar reaction after her own tribute on Instagram and we felt there must be a way for Vanessa’s online friends to mark the day of her funeral.  Lisa has made the following suggestion to everyone who would like to remember Vanessa on this sad day…

Vanessa’s funeral will be at 11am on the 30th of December. As a mark of our online friendship and out of respect for her memory I will be posting a photo at 11am that day under the heading Do You Mind if I Knit? #vanessacabban. It would be wonderful if as many of you who knew or were inspired by her joined in too. Post a picture of something you’re making, it doesn’t matter if you can’t knit. Vanessa also crocheted, made clothes, created papier-mâché sculptures, brooches, painted and illustrated books. What she did do though was make sure she had time to knit a few rows every day to set the day right. Penny @planetpenny will also be hosting the same via her blog Planet Penny.

So I hope you will join us tomorrow at 11o’clock to remember Vanessa, with a picture of something you are making.  If you are on Instagram you will find me @planetpenny and Lisa @bobobun68 and when you post a picture don’t forget the heading and hashtag.  If you are not on Instagram you can send your photo to me at planetpenny.co.uk(at)gmail.com and I will add them to this post.

Please feel free to share this blog post to spread the word as far as you can, it would be lovely to send this tribute across cyberspace to mark the life of a talented and inspirational lady, Vanessa Cabban.

In memory of Vanessa, her family have set up a Just Giving page where you can make a donation to the Mental Health Foundation.

Photos added in tribute to Vanessa…

Celia Hart

Celia Hart


Dotty Cookie



Judith Crossley

Judith Crossley

Susan Greenhow

Susan Greenhow

Koko Okamuru

Koko Okamuru

…and many more on Instagram…

Happy Christmas from Planet Penny!

Happy Christmas

Here’s wishing a very, very Happy Christmas to all, but especially to the Planet Penny blog followers and everyone who has taken the trouble to pause and leave a comment.  I haven’t always been able to respond, but I read and appreciate everything you say.

2014 hasn’t been the easiest year but I’ve felt supported by all my ‘virtual friends’ out there in cyberspace.  There are lots of plans and ideas for Planet Penny in 2015 so I hope you will join me (and Higgins, of course!).

Thank you, and have a wonderful time, wherever you are xxx

Vanessa Cabban – a Tribute

Yesterday I was shocked and so saddened to hear of the tragic death on December 17th of Vanessa Cabban, a talented artist and illustrator who’s blog ‘Do you Mind if I Knit‘ was one of my inspirations when I first began to write here on Planet Penny.

I’m sure many of you who visit here will have come across Vanessa’s blog, where she wrote so entertainingly about her adventures with yarn, her two wire haired dachshunds, Ellie and Douglas and also about her life and the beautiful area in which she lived.

We bonded over our mutual love of dachshunds and Vanessa was a big fan of Higgins.  Her colourful and funny children’s books were a big hit with my grandsons when they were small, and Vanessa’s papier mache sculptures are a joy to behold, so vibrant and full of joie de vivre.

Sadly, Vanessa’s marriage ended a couple of years ago and her work took a different direction.  Still beautiful, but quiet and reflective.  When we last corresponded she wrote of her determination to move on to a new era in her life, and I am so, so sad to realise that that life has now come to end.

Vanessa Cabban was hugely talented and although we never met in person she seemed a warm and lovely human being.  I cannot begin to think how her family and friends are feeling, or how they will come to terms with their tragic loss, but I know they will be in the hearts of many of us in the blogging world over Christmas and beyond.

Rest in Peace, dear Vanessa x


In memory of Vanessa, her family have set up a Just Giving page where you can make a donation to the Mental Health Foundation.

 Ed to add – 30/12/2014: So many people have been remembering Vanessa today, the day of her funeral.  Find out about the ‘Do You Mind If I Knit?’ tributes here … 

Ed – 26/01/15:You can find out about two projects in memory of Vanessa by the bloggers she inspired here, I’m sure there are many more.

Tea Light Holders for the Cotton Traders Advent Calendar

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.

You’ll find the link on The Thread, the Cotton Traders Blog, Planet Penny appears on Day 12!


Nordic Houses

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?


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


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 tealights 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!

I hope you have fun with this and all the other crafty makes and seasonal recipes on the Cotton Traders Advent Calendar.  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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