It’s Raining…It’s Pouring!

After a mostly bright and sunny three days for the first weekend of Open Studios, today we have a deluge!  The water butts are overflowing…


… the back yard is flooded…

flooded yard

…and the few steps from the back door to the studio are enough to get soaked through.


I tried to work out there but the rain on the roof is deafening so I’ve decamped to the dining table with the laptop where I am typing with one hand because I have a very worried little dog trembling in my other arm. Higgins hates the rain, hates the wet, the noise and the possibility of thunder too, one supposes.  Anyway he’s stuck to me like a limpet all morning and just wants to sit on my lap ’till it’s all dachshundAs you can imagine, the last week or so has been really busy, first getting prepared for Open Studios, and then opening the doors and welcoming people in.  So I haven’t managed to personally thank everyone who left such lovely comments on my last post, but I do thank everyone for such supportive messages.

The studio is now a display area and you can imagine just how much stuff I’ve got squirrelled away all over the house to make enough space!  As usual Kit is sharing the space with her beautiful prints…

Kit Calladine Prints…and we have lots of other things to look at and hopefully to inspire people…

Planet Penny Studio

…with of course our little Meeter and Greeter at the ready!

Planet Penny StudioHiggins is quite convinced that Open Studios is actually the annual convening of the Higgins the Miniature Dachshund Appreciation Society.  He greets every visitor with complete rapture, and by the end of the first day was utterly exhausted…

Miniature Dachshund asleepWe now have a few days to catch up before it all happens again next weekend.  If you are local, it would be lovely to see you. There’s a lot else to see on the Two Rivers Trail, (you can find out more on the website) Printmaking, textiles, painting, woodcarving, feltmaking, spinning, beautiful alpacas…

Alpaca in his wedding hat - Burnt Fen Alpacas…and of course, Higgins…

miniature dachshundSee you soon…!


From the Heart

hearts - Planet Penny Cotton

Here I am, at last.  This is the longest gap in posting for years, and it’s been playing on my mind.

When I started writing this blog it was just for me, and I had no real expectations that anyone else would even notice I was I was here, let alone actually read it.  And then come back and read some more.

What writing regularly did for me was to make me do stuff, and this fed my creativity and became a creative spiral.  The fact that you out there dropped in to encourage me was a lovely bonus, thank you!

But it’s all so much easier when you can trundle along in blissful ignorance just doing your thing. The rot set in when I started thinking there’s more to all this world wide web stuff than I first realise, maybe I’d better find out about it.  And then I started a business and suddenly there was all this big stuff which people were telling me I have to use, like SEO,…keywords …categories… And the little thing which was fun and interesting and created interaction with nice people suddenly became fraught with rules and regulations.

I worry about getting things right.  And so rather than get things wrong I’ve ended up sacrificing the spontaneity with which I first started the blog, feeling overwhelmed by what I should be doing, rather than what I want to do.  And I’m guilty of letting that happen in life at the moment too.

This is a busy time of year, next weekend Open Studios starts and there’s lots to do.  It would be so easy to put off writing until it’s all over.  But it’s like when you owe a letter to a friend, and for various reasons you don’t get round to replying and then time goes on and it gets harder and harder to justify why you’re such a bad friend that you can’t even put pen to paper to say hi.  And you end up sending Christmas cards every year saying, ‘Will be in touch in the New Year’.  And you don’t.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will know I am a great believer in serendipity, the happy accident.  It’s stood me in good stead over the years.  By happy accident this morning I came across an amazing post this morning which really made me think about what I am doing. This is a quote …

10350535_10152148071065745_5232667406941192688_n…but if you want to be inspired as I was, click on the quote and read the whole post.  It really makes you think.

So let spontaneity rule all round!  I might just arrive here with a photo, or a short post, or I might write lots and fling in a tutorial, who knows!  But I won’t let WordPress or All in One SEO bully me by pointing out I’ve only written 250 words and the recommended length is at least 400 words or whatever.  It’s my blog and I’m not writing a dissertation!

This isn’t my usual kind of post, so thanks for bearing with me and I hope you’ll stick around, I wouldn’t be here without you …x

Hooray for the Little Red Hen!

Little Red Hen Ladybird Book

click for the story

This is the version of the Little Red Hen story I remember from way back in primary school, how we loved our Ladybird books!

We got to talking about it the other day because my friend Kit was reminiscing about her mum, sadly long gone, who used to quote the Little Red Hen when she had failed to get anyone else to do the necessary thing, whatever it was.

‘ ”Then I’ll do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen. And so she did.’

I have been chuntering for ages about the overgrown state of my vegetable patch.  It always needs the most attention when I’m tied up with the run up to Open Studios and it’s got more and more overgrown, weedy and wild every season.  However, over the past two weeks I have channelled my inner Little Red Hen and I DID IT MYSELF!

It looks great….I’m exhausted!  I’ve filled a skip bag with rubbish, the beds are topped up with fresh compost and my little mini cold frame cum green house is crammed full of seed trays and seedlings.

Higgins has tried very hard to help.

Miniature Dachshund

Taking the little fences away from the raised beds has meant he could do lots in the way of turning over the soil, and then firming it down afterwards.dachshund in raised bed

He’s carried the trowel about helpfully (and put it away tidily where it couldn’t be lost)veg patch

More little fences have turned into a priority if any of the seedlings are going to make it to maturity once they have been planted out.  Higgins has history, remember the Mixed Greens?

Did you spot the laburnum tree?  This year it’s being completely wonderful – it alternates – and it’s very special as it was a seedling from the one in my parents’ garden.laburnum

And the bees LOVE it! For the last week or so, ever since the very first buds opened the air around the tree has been throbbing with the sound of very happy little bees…listen to this…

So this is why it’s been a little quiet here over the past week, and now there’s a lot of catching up to do.

While all this was going on the Green Man went off to the Forum in Norwich for the Open Studios Taster Exhibition – you can just see him dangling next to the patchwork…

Forum, Norwich NNOS taster exhibition

Taster Exhibition – setting up

Now it’s all systems go for the main event, which starts on May 24th.

You might like to see a glimpse of the other exhibition which was running at the same time, the most amazing knitted and crochet pergola which was made to raise funds for a local charity…

knitted pergola - John Grooms Court

knitted pergola detail

Just amazing, isn’t it?  There’s an interesting post on The Mercerie blog which will tell you more about it.

My next challenge is turning the studio into an exhibition space…eek!  I’ve just got so much STUFF.

And I haven’t forgotten about those extra little Boxes of Delight.…  2014-04-28 21.37.50

The challenge now is seeing just what I can squeeze inside, so watch this space, I’ll be back soon…x

A Crafty Weekend…

It’s all quiet here now, but last weekend I had my two grandsons to stay and it was a madhouse!  It was very fortunate that I had on hand a selection of crafty bits and pieces from Baker Ross for us to have fun with, little kids and big kids alike. We had lots of fun with the Super Clay, what a long way we’ve come since my primary school days and the boring greyish brown lump that came out on Plasticine days! Super Clay - Baker Ross One unexpected thing we discovered was how well it bounced!  (These are things you find out when you have small boys around, don’t you?) Benjy,  with a little help from Daddy, produced this jolly chap… Super Clay Man - Baker RossI made a little flower… Super Clay flower - Baker Ross…and there was no holding my son back once he got started, we got another Higgins… Super Clay Dachshund - Baker RossHe gives us that look when we don’t share our biscuits! Higgins - Super Clay - Baker RossAnd I found this strange little chap peering at me out of the cups and saucers… Super Clay Head - Thomas TaylorThe clay air dries in 24 hours so it’s ideal for children to use to make little presents.  (I think I’ve solved the next birthday present conundrum, and that’s for my grown-up son!) The Porcelain Paint Pens were really useful too.  I’ve had a couple of plain white mugs for a while now, bought specifically for decorating in some way. porcelain paints - Baker RossOnce you’ve created the design the paint is baked on and becomes dishwasher safe. Mug with dachshund mug with flowersOne for morning coffee, and the other for afternoon tea! Baker Ross was also where I saved myself from disappearing under a mountain of unboxed matches when I got carried away by this project the other day. So much easier to buy empty matchboxes by the bag! Covered Matchboxes   For those of you who have been wondering how I’ve been getting on with the Green Man, he’s finished, and this morning I delivered him to the Forum in Norwich for the Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios Taster Exhibition which runs from Friday 18th to Wednesday 23rd April.   I’ve written a post about the making of him for our Two Rivers Trail Blog so you can find out the details by following this link. While I’ve been typing I have had a very fidgety little dog round my feet, reminding me about walkies.  It’s been lovely here the past few days so I’d better get out and wear off some of his energy… WalkiesWishing you all a peaceful, happy sun-filled Easter..I’ll be back soon…x

Planet Penny Cotton Colours – A New Look

I mentioned recently news about the Planet Penny Cotton, it’s got a new look!

Planet Penny Cotton Colours 12 pack

I’ve been deliberating for a long time about the colour range.  I love it still, and didn’t want to change something which works so well, but from the feedback I’ve been getting it needed a slight tweak.   The pack now consists of 12 colours.  It looks more vibrant without the two pastel shades, and of course it’s now cheaper!

From the administrative point of view it solves a couple of niggles too, so I hope everyone is happy with it.  (Anyone mid-project relying on purchasing a second 14 ball pack please contact me for help)

What helped me take the final step was seeing this gorgeous blanket made by Alison, one of my customers…

Ripple Blanket - Planet Penny  Cotton - Attic 24 pattern

Attic 24 pattern - Planet Penny Cotton - Ripple BlanketThis what Alison said about her method of making the blanket:

“This was a Lucy ripple and I believe I did 196 stitches plus the extra 3.(or whatever was divisible by 3, I think I had a few more on the start chain and unpicked from the start when I had done my first row as I wanted).  I have done three rows of each of the colours  Apple, Lime, Buttercup, Marigold, Peach, RoseBud, Gerbera, Aubretia, Cornflower, Delphinium, Aqua and Jade. We have ended up with 4 sets of 12 colours, the finished blanket is about 96cm x 152cm.    I have a small amount of each ball left, so a ball did six rows.”

As Alison said, it’s an Attic 24 Ripple pattern which you will find here.

I hope that’s inspired you!  It’s always nice to have a little Rainbow colour infusion…

I’m off into the sunshine now.  I have grandsons visiting for a few days.  They’ve been off to the North Norfolk coast today but I’ve promised them a spot of Granny style crafting when they come back so I shall have a few minutes rest in the garden before they get home.

See you soon…x

Needlefelt Workshops and a Present for Higgins

Feather and Needlefelt birds

You’ll remember I’m sure, that last year I went to Art’s Desire in Norwich to teach some Needlefelt Workshops. I fell in love with the shop then, and the whole idea of the Craft Lounge being a venue for people to come to learn to knit, crochet, felt and more.

The exciting news is that it’s re-locating in a lovely old cobblers shop just out of Norwich City Centre and will be opening in a few weeks.  I love a renovation project and when I called in a few weeks ago it was just at the point when you see what a great space it will be for the shop, it’s tempting goodies and the crafting area.

Kay, the owner, came to tea last week for a catch up and planning session and being a dog lover arrived with a special present for Higgins.  (Tongue firmly in cheek, I may say!)

This is it, in the ‘bosses’ chair…2014-04-03 10.37.36And this is what happened…

Mini Dachsund fights cushion It didn’t work…

daschund fights cushion and winsHowever, we had more success sorting out a workshop date, thank goodness!

And it is on…

June 14th 2014, from 10.30 – 1pm and price is £25.00 which will include materials,

and the venue is 82, Park Lane, Norwich, NR2 3EL

Arts Desire NorwichPlease contact Kay via the Arts Desire website or me via the Planet Penny contact page if you are interested, it would be lovely to see you.

And talking of needlefelt, I am finishing off the Green Man, just in time. He goes off to the Forum next week for the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios Taster Exhibition.  I can’t believe it’s come round so quickly!  I’ll post a picture when I’ve added the finishing touches.

Be back soon…x