Tag Archives: Thomas Taylor

Challenges, and the Easter Bunny

daffodils in snow: no weather for the Easter Bunny

I think we’ve all been a bit challenged in the UK this week, by the weather!  What’s it been like with you?  We haven’t had huge amounts of snow here in Norfolk, but we are very exposed to the biting wind heading our way across the North Sea: it seems to have been howling down the chimney for days.  It’s hard to believe it’s Easter next weekend,  the poor old Easter Bunny is going to have to wear his thermals to do his chocolate egg deliveries!

My main challenge over the week was a talk I had promised to give, months ago.  You know how you agree to these things and they seem so far away in the distance and then suddenly, it’s here and you are wondering why on earth you agreed to it!   I headed off to Beccles, which is just over the border into Suffolk to give a talk to the Spinners and Weavers Guild about Needlefelting.   I sort of had a feeling I might be teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, as the saying goes.  Then I found out there might well be over 30 people there and…ooo-er…!

As it was, it was fine.  After I got over my initial dry mouthed panic as I was introduced and stood there with no notes, no script but lots of props it went very well.

needlefelt demo

They were a lovely audience and very keen to set to with needles and fleece to have a go themselves after I’d finished the talk.

needlefelt class

As they were all textile practitioners they were happy to be experimental rather than being given a project and although there wasn’t a huge amount of time – and needlefelt is very time consuming – they came up with some jolly pieces and all seemed to have fun.

beginners needlefelt

However, I also had another challenge, and that was definitely down to the Easter Bunny!  I’ve been feeling so bad because I have been promising to write up the pattern for the bunny I made last Easter and my goodness, haven’t I got myself in a pickle with it!  And all of a sudden, there’s only a week to go!  I am sorry, aren’t I rubbish?  I think I’ve just been over thinking what I was doing, and seemed to spend ages ripping out and redoing the same piece.  Then suddenly, it all fell into place and the pattern is finished.

I’m on the way to having a complete Bunny Brigade…

crochet bunny backs

colourful crochet bunnies

As you can see, they each have their own personality, right down to a challenger for Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’s title! (Percy, the Pink Nosed Bunny?)

So I’m thinking of an Easter present for you.  From now until after Easter the pattern will be available FREE as a downloadable PDF right HERE! (This offer has expired, but the bunny will be available soon via the Etsy Shop)   There is a Planet Penny Bunny Brigade group board on Pinterest so if you would like to add your version of the bunny just let me know and I can invite you.  You obviously have to be on Pinterest yourself and I have to be following at least one of your boards (but that can easily be arranged!)  Although I’ve made the Bunnies using the Planet Penny Cotton, they can be made using any yarn oddments, just match your hook to the yarn.  You can find out more about that in this post.

This is a limited offer, but I’d like to give my followers and customers a head start.  Although there’s only a week till Easter, they only take an hour or two to make so I’m sure we could have a wonderful board full of bunnies on Pinterest very soon, let me know what you think.

Finally, for those of you who read last week’s post about delivering Clovis, the Mad French Cat to his home by the sea you might be interested in a follow up tale (tail?) from his new home.  Visit Thomas’s blog to find out how he’s settling in, and have a chortle.  Tom seems to think there’s not a lot of call for cat stories, so if you disagree do leave a comment with him.  I need more pictures like that!

I’m joining in again with Handmade Monday over on Handmade Harbour so do pay a visit to see what’s going on…

Back soon…x

A Bug in the System

Hello! So sorry I haven’t been around for a while, and thank you so much for the lovely Get Well Soon messages which were very much appreciated.  I usually have to cope with a bug in the computer system, but this time the virus has been my very own!

The last few weeks have been flagged up for ages as the busiest of the whole of 2012 but I had thought I would gallop out the other end triumphant carrying a banner (or a stream of bunting!), not stagger out with a box of tissues under one arm waving a white flag!

In the space of month there has been:

  1. A Wedding (Proud Mama #1 (with hat))
  2. A Book Launch (Proud Mama #2)
  3. CSSD Student daughter left for Mumbai as part of the Morni Theatre Collective (Proud Mama #3)
  4. Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios- three weekends  (Working hat)
  5. Another Wedding (Proud Aunt (with another hat))
  6. Most of my best-beloved family either visiting or staying (see items 1 & 5)

In amongst all this, Planet Penny decided it was not possible to wait another month to become a business rather than a hobby, which has involved finding a business account, an accountant, taking legal advice….and so on….and so on….

Perhaps it’s not surprising that a rogue bug decide to join the party, but I really haven’t appreciated having such a nasty little gate-crasher!

Today is the first day I have actually found two brain cells to rub together so I’m gradually trying to get my studio back into working order whilst thinking my way round all the ‘stuff’ which has accumulated whilst I (as in ‘my brain’) have been ‘off line’.  so while I’m doing all that, I’ll share a few of the photos taken over the last few weeks….

There has been of course Open Studios, and this is what Planet Penny looked like in ‘exhibition space’ mode…

There were times when you couldn’t see all this though…

…and times when we were playing host to our local MP!

Just down the road our neighbour was hosting her first Open Studio, complete with a herd of Alapacas

and a yurt!

Hands up who is joining me with serious ‘Yurt Envy’!

A fabulous time was had at the book launch at Heffers Children’s Book Shop in Cambridge…

Not often you have to queue to speak to your own son!

And as the rain fell, the garden carried on growing…

Peach Rose

…and growing…

…and growing.

But now it’s back to normal time.  I’ve already re-jigged one set of display shelves to accomodate the latest Planet Penny Cotton Club delivery…

…and it’s heads down sorting out the next pattern and kit.  The packs are for sale on Etsy, follow this link or the the Shop button at the top of the page to find them, plus the Rainbow Mouse kits, Mini Mice Fridge Magnet kits  and patterns.

See you again soon! x

Open Studios for Handmade Monday

I’m sitting in the garden outside the studio typing and listening to the birds singing whilst we wait for our visitors for the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios.

Kit is working on a lino cut at the other end of the table…

and in the middle is a little furry helper…

It’s been fairly quiet so far today but the visitors we have had have been lovely and we’ve both made sales.  Open Studios isn’t just about selling, but it would be nice to cover the entry costs and then anything else is a bonus.

My studio is looking great, so tidy!  You wouldn’t believe how much I’ve got stashed away in boxes and hidden…

And it’s so lovely to be able to sit out in the garden and just enjoy the fresh air after all the wet and miserable weather which has gone on, and on, and on…

As you can imagine, I haven’t got any thing new in the way of textile creativity to show this week after all the preparations have been taken care of, but I’m still linking up to Handmade Monday over on Handmade Harbour so you can follow what’s going on on all the other creative blogs which take part.

If you only visit once a week, you may have missed the guest blog post from the Young Adult Fiction writer Thomas Taylor.  There’s a chance to win a signed copy of the book and still time to enter so please don’t miss out.

Open Studios continues for another two weekends, so if you are in North Norfolk over the long Bank Holiday or the weekend after, it would be lovely to see you…

Guest Blog Post – Thomas Taylor

As promised, a guest blog post from Thomas Taylor, whose new book is launched at Heffers Book Shop in Cambridge today, 24th May 2012…

“Eddie, Adam and David have the same gift. Using their dreams they can travel in time, appearing as ghosts wherever and whenever they want. But each of them wants something different…

Eddie, the genius who discovers dreamwalking, is sworn to protect the course of history. Adam wants to use terror to change it for his own ends. And David, the novice dreamwalker who is linked to them both, must find a way to keep them apart – and save the future of the world…”

When Penny invited me to write a guest post, the first thing I wondered was how on earth I was going to link my Young Adult supernatural thriller with needle-felting and those delightful crocheted mice! Writers are supposed to be able to accomplish anything with words, right? But, er…

Well, I’ve decided I’m not even going to try to link what I do with what she does, but the reason for that isn’t creative cowardice on my part. The reason is simply that the real link lies in who we are: mother and son.

I have been thinking about ghosts since childhood, mostly because I was terrified of them. So scared, in fact, that I honestly thought I saw them as a boy. Of course, I realise now that I never did – well, probably never did, anyway – but I have spent a lot of time wondering what they may be if they do exist. And I’m sure Penny (hello, mum!) can remember how wound-up I got about it all! Over-active imaginations are never easy to live with, and I doubt she’s surprised that a haunted childhood has resulted in a book called Haunters. Certainly, I won’t deny that this book may also be a way to deal with all that childhood fear, especially now I have become a parent myself. And perhaps that’s why, in the book, only children can dreamwalk. In any case, what if ghosts aren’t something to be scared of at all, but something to be really excited about? I’d much rather that! I certainly wish my terrified, 12-year-old self could have read a book like this.

So Haunters is dedicated to Penny, for all these reasons. But also for…

…making sure there were always books around when I was little; for teaching me to love stories, and – when reading didn’t come naturally – for showing me not be afraid of words; for pointing out that behind the sofa was the best place to hide when Dr Who got scary, and then hiding there with me; for fabulating birthday cakes that made the other kids go ‘WOW!’; for never laughing at my early artistic ambitions, even though they were often laughable; for being amazing when nothing else seemed to be; for tolerating teenage fury and adolescent gloom and not biting back; for — along with her husband, Tim — providing me with the means, both moral and financial, to get through art school; for reinventing herself whilst never changing toward me; for passing on some of the magic to my own children; for leaving room behind the sofa even now.

Mum, thank you for all that, and for so much more. And thank you for letting my spooky book onto your blog!

I feel much better now. Honest…

But how about you, dear reader? Would you like to win a signed copy of Haunters? Simply leave a comment here to be entered into a draw on the 1st of June. Add a scary ‘hiding behind the sofa’ anecdote to your comment, and get yourself entered twice. Good luck! And good reading….

Thank you, Thomas… I’m off to find the tissues….

Edited to Add:  Thanks so much for all the lovely comments – we’ve had so much fun reading them and some great trips down memory lane with your ‘behind the sofa moments’!   It was quite difficult to choose between them, but in the end it was KateUK‘s Aunty Betty who won through, making us snort with laughter with this story…

“The whole family used to hide behind the sofa when Aunty Betty came up the drive – not just us, my Aunt, Uncle and cousins would do it too at their house. If her car was spotted everyone just dropped like stones behind the nearest piece of large furniture until she went away. She was the sort of lady who, if the doorbell wasn’t answered, would peer in through windows, so we became REALLY good at hiding. Daleks? Pah! Small fry.”

 Anyway, anyone with a scary relative like that in their childhood deserves to win a prize!  

Thank you to all who took part, I’m sorry you couldn’t all win a copy of the book, but it should be available in most good bookshops or of course, Amazon.  (If your local bookshop doesn’t have a copy by the way, order it and create a demand! This is the pushy mother speaking here!) 


Mini Mice for a Crochet Handmade Monday

I wish I could share this beautiful tree in a shaft of sunlight with a blue sky background, but alas the gloom of the last few days makes me worry if I wait for the sun to come out, all the blossom will have faded and died.  It tends to run in a two year cycle, last year there were about three flowers, this years it’s really going to town!

I seem to have spent so much time over the past week with my head down, working, that things are popping out in the garden and I’m missing them.  I’m hopelessly behind with the Garden Diaries, I was full of good intentions but there is only one of me, and it’s a bit of a struggle to not only do it all, but write about it too!

We’re really in the run up to the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios now, doors open next Saturday for three weekends, which is both scary and exciting.  We’re not novices this year though, we had a really positive experience last year, so we’re looking forward to it.

In between winding many, many little balls of cotton over the last week for the Rainbow Mouse Kits I’ve been working on a new pattern and I’ve just finished making the prototype in time to show it to my Handmade Monday chums…  I seem to be in the grip of a mouse obsession at the moment, both crochet and needlefelt and I can’t quite move on from it yet.     I wanted to devise something small, to use up those little oddments of yarn which might otherwise be wasted, so I’ve now got a teeny, tiny mini mouse!

I couldn’t let him be lonely…

…and in the end of course, there had to be one of each colour… and then I thought… MAGNETS!

I’ve had quite a lot of fun playing with them….!

I hope to write the pattern before too long and I’ll put it on the Etsy shop, although if you’ve bought a Planet Penny Yarn pack I will send you the pattern on request.  I’m thinking about a kit too, but does anyone know whether sending magnets through the mail, especially overseas, is a potential problem?  I hate to think of one of my ‘pink parcels’ being detonated in a car park somewhere!

If you are a Handmade Monday regular and wondering about the rest of the wedding bits and pieces, I wrote about it in my last post which you will find here.  It’s worth a visit just to see the amazing wedding cake made entirely from….well I won’t spoil it, go and take a peek!

Next week, hopefully on Thursday, I will publish my first ever Guest Post.  If you have children, or grandchildren aged 10+ or are an avid reader yourself come back to meet the author Thomas Taylor, talking about his novel, ‘Haunters’, which is published next week.  (It’s dedicated to me and Tim, it’s amazing what people will do to be allowed on Planet Penny!!!)

I’ll leave you with a link to Wendy’s Handmade Harbour so you can visit all the other Handmade Monday blogs, and yet more mice…

See you soon….squeak! x

The Merry Month of May….

Everything seems to be happening in the merry month of May 2012!   In the spirit of chasing along so as not to get left behind…

…and before I run out of time…

I know…sorry!

I’m squeezing in an extra post so I don’t get completely overwhelmed with things to say, photos to show and no time.

So, May….first of all, there are three birthdays.  Poor Tim drew the short straw having to go back to work on his birthday.  The Carrot Cake recipe must come out in time for his return home I feel!   Then of course there was the wedding… I do have some more photos to share, don’t worry, but they won’t be of the Mother-of-the-Groom.  A line must be drawn!   And, my own big news, Planet Penny is now officially a business.  Not perfect timing but things were running away from me, and I needed it all to be official.

The Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios event is fast approaching, in fact it’s the weekend after next.  There is still loads to do, but we’ll get there, and if anyone is in the Norfolk area it would be SO lovely to see you.  You can find out all about it here.

The next big exciting thing though is next week, and it’s the launch of my son Thomas’ debut novel in Heffer’s bookshop in Cambridge.  Obviously I’m a proud mum, but I’m not alone in thinking he’s pretty special and you can read a bit about the launch here.   And of course if you are in the Cambridge area you could join in too, and come and say hello, I’ll be the one with a proud grin from ear to ear!

Thomas is going to write the very first Guest Post for Planet Penny in the next few days, too, so do look out for that.

But back to the wedding, and the decorations.  We had Wedding Trees!  It had started in the back of my mind as painted branches on which to hang little pretties, but with the help of St Serendipity again, we found two beautifully shaped Japanese Maples in pots.  At the time they were completely bare, but just in time they put out the most beautiful red leaves which were still small enough for an overall lacy effect, and I draped them with little white lights, tiny white calico hearts and paper doves…

But the thing which occupied most of my time in the run up to the wedding was the cake topper.  I’d had a particular idea in mind from the moment  I heard it was going to be a cheese cake.  and I don’t mean a cheesecake, I mean a cake made of CHEESE!  Wallace and Gromit would be proud!

It had to be mice, didn’t it?  And I didn’t let the fact that there weren’t actually any bridesmaids, or even a pageboy put me off…

And the chef made an amazing job of putting the whole construction together…

Mouse Wedding Cake Toppers

I have to say it was delicious too, and very much appreciated by all the family, complete cheese fanatics every one!

Finally, a Planet Penny Cotton Club update.  I have just moved the yarn packs, Rainbow Mouse Kits and patterns on to the Folksy shop.  I’ve been a little overwhelmed by the administration involved selling them directly, I need time to be creative or I just don’t function!  It all seems to be working well but let me know if you have a problem.

See you soon…x

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