Category Archives: Workshops

A Weekend of Dyeing and Weaving with Aviva Leigh

natural dyesLast weekend I went off to reboot my creative vibe, which has been languishing under a layer of brick dust for far too long!  I trotted along to the Norwich studio of Aviva Leigh to spend an inspirational day dyeing with natural dyes to transform a variety of yarns,  followed by a day of mastering a knitter’s loom to create a piece of woven cloth.

We were fortunate that it was a small group, just the three of us in our rubber gloves and pinnies, oohing and aahing as Aviva introduced us to the magic of dyeing with plant leaves, woodchips, pomegranate skins and even crushed beetles! yarn for dyeing - Aviva Leighdye baths - Aviva LeighAviva Leighcrushed beetles - natural dye - cochinealIn my mind natural dyes were soft and subtle, but it’s astonishing how vibrant some of the colours are.dyed wool - Aviva Leigh workshopIt’s also interesting to realise that the building in which  Aviva has her studio is in the heart of the historic textile area of Norwich where the river used to run red with the waste from the dyeing factories.

By the end of the first day our heads were spinning with information!  So much to take in about the history, the geography and chemistry of natural dyes.  Aviva assured us that the following day would be relaxing and mindful, leaving the steamy atmosphere of the dyeing studio to weave our wool samples into cloth.indigo and pomegranate - natural dyesThere were just two of us the next day and it’s a very small world because we discovered that my fellow student follows Planet Penny – so, Hello Tracy!! We had a wonderful day experimenting with colours and textures and different effects.weaving workshop with Aviva Leigh  So much so that we both headed home having bought our looms, despite both of us saying the last thing we need is yet another craft.  It’s just so addictive.weaving workshop with Aviva LeighAutumn weavingI’m itching to get my loom ready for some more experiments but I will have to wait until I have fewer builders in the house.  Today there are four, it feels a bit like DIY SOS! But we really are on the home straight now, despite the fact that we’ve just discovered the new back door fits the aperture, but won’t actually open…ho hum…

I’ll be back soon…x

 

The Crochet Retreat with Frank & Olive

Well I’m home, bright eyed and bushy tailed from a simply stunning weekend at the very first Crochet Retreat with Frank & Olive and can’t wait to tell you all about it.

I hopped on a train to York on Friday afternoon and after the taxi driver had negotiated the rush hour traffic I arrived in the peaceful Yorkshire countryside at Deighton Lodge, a converted farmhouse.  Here I was welcomed by Ruby and Kim, of Frank & Olive Crochet.Ruby & Kim - Crochet Retreat with Frank & OliveRuby is a fabulous crochet designer as seen in Mollie Makes, Simply Crochet, Inside Crochet and Kirstie’s Handmade Britain.

As the other ‘Happy Hookers’ arrived we were given a very welcome glass of Prosecco to sip while we gazed with wide eyed wonder at the heaps, piles….mountains of gorgeous yarn which surrounded us.  Just yarn heaven!

Crochet Retreat with Frank & OliveI really wanted to bring this sheep home! DMC sheep - Crochet Retreat with Frank & OliveThere were pattern books galore to inspire us and it wasn’t long before we had all dived in and started new projects and we were a little reluctant to stop to eat.  That is until we saw the gorgeous Greek themed feast which had been prepared, just scrumptious!

And that is how the weekend continued, with fabulous food and drink, more yarn than we could ever use, inspiration, lots of laughter and new friends.  It was exactly what I needed and I’ve come home thoroughly inspired.Marna Lunt - Crochet retreat with Frank & OliveRuby had arranged a workshop with  Marna Lunt the textile artist who is lovely and had us all crocheting, cutting and stitching to make our own creations, I’ve nearly finished mine…Marna Lunt workshop - Crochet Retreat with Frank & OliveThe final luxurious touch was a massage with Nassira, who was fantastic – it just added that extra relaxing element…

So I’ve come home full of enthusiasm and have only been slightly daunted by discovering that our internet is on the blink! So. I might get this published, who knows but hey…I am sooo chilled…

If the Crochet Retreat with Frank & Olive sounds like it might be right up your street you can find out more about it here… and I’ll be back soon to share a few more of my makes…x

Flowers and Needlefelt

What a soggy weekend this has been!  We seem to be alternating between having so much rain that the water butt overflows and the road floods, and then having to run around watering the vegetable garden because it’s so hot and sunny.

My garden is now in it’s July slump, all the prettiness of the Spring flowers are just a distant memory and I’m confronted with all the things which should have been thinned out or consigned to the compost heap back at the end of the Winter.  Does anyone like Golden Rod?  I find it sad and funereal.

The roadsides however have been a delight.  This is a typical sight as you travel round the lanes in Norfolk…

PennygatePoppies020714 copy

I’ll just have to sow more poppies in my garden!

But talking of flowers, I’ve been working on a new needlefelt project having had a request for a different kind of workshop, making covered notebooks.

As you know, I like to use needlefelt as a sculptural medium as I love working in 3D, so flat needlefelt is a new departure for me.  However I have really enjoyed creating a woolly garden of flowers to make up for the ones I am lacking outside!

I started off by just using the fibres like paint…

Needlefelt Flowers…but found that adding in simple embroidery stitches gave it more detail and interest. And it was really fun to do!Needlefelt with embroidery

I’ve been using lovely 100% wool felt squares from Blooming Felt to practice on, I’ve got a gorgeous selection of colours. These are the next two in the collection…

Needlefelt flowers with embroideryEmbroidered needlefelt flowersBut the challenge now is finding sheets large enough to cover a notebook.  In an ideal world of course I would wet felt each piece individually but alas, M.E. has rather put paid to something as energetic as that.

But while that particular project is coming together, the workshops I have had for Beginners Needlefelting have gone really well, both the group session at Arts Desire, and a one-to-one session in my studio.  If you live in the area and would like to know more, follow this link.

The next Needlefelt Workshop at Arts Desire is next weekend, and there’s a place or two left, it would be lovely to see you.

And in case you are wondering whether my crochet hooks are rusting in the corner, no, they’re not!  I’ve just completed a commission, and I’ll be back soon to show you just what else I have been making, so watch this space…

See you soon…x

Needlefelting in Norwich

Well, Open Studios may be over for another year, but the needlefelting goes on… Last Saturday I packed my big spotty bag with a rainbow of fluffy fleece and went off to the Craft Lounge at the new Arts Desire premises.  It’s all looking very lovely there now, and I especially appreciated the posh new coffee machine, and Kay’s newly acquired skills as a barista. I function so much better after a shot of caffeine!

We had a lovely group of people on the Needlefelt workshop who were very creative and soon got into the swing of needlefelting, with only the odd squeak as someone missed the work and pricked a finger (with no swearing, I was impressed)

Needlefelt workshop at Arts Desire, NorwicgAt the end we had an eclectic mix of creations, several birds, a cuddly mouse, a French bulldog, a scary monster and a rainbow hedgehog…

Art's Desire, Needlefelt workshop

beginners_needleflet, Arts Desire, NorwichI’ve now had a request for a workshop for making needlefelt notebook covers so if you are interested, do let me know.

Back home, I’m trying to get to grips with the garden which seems to have gone mad while my back was turned.  I’ve made lots of moments to just stand and stare at the Albertine Rose though…

Albertine RoseFor 48 weeks of the year it’s a complete thug.  It’s rampaged over the fence into next door and is swarming up their house too, fortunately they really like it.  It sends out long, long branches covered in large thorns which grab at unsuspecting callers and it takes our son, Will, who is also our gardener most of an afternoon to trim it, tame it and train up the wires he’s put on the house.  But at this time of the year it completely redeems itself, smothering the front of the house with fondant pink.  I love lying in bed and viewing the world through rose petals!

It’s all too brief though, and already the North wind of the past couple of days has made the doorstep look as if we’ve hosted a wedding reception…

rose petalsSuch a fleeting moment…

Going back to the needlefelting again, one or two sharp-eyed people spotted the little old man in the tree when they came to visit for Open Studios…

Needlefelt man in the tree NNOSI’m going to leave him there and see what happens.  Will he rot? Will he be eaten by slugs or moths?  Will he be dismantled by birds for nesting material?  Or will he still be there for next year’s Open Studios…?

We shall see!

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

Little Vintage Lover Fair

Sunday was a day off…hooray! A gorgeous sunny day, just right to pack the car and head off to the Little Vintage Lover Fair in Heydon, Norfolk.  I’ve been spotting mentions of it on various blogs over the past weeks,  I knew my friend Lisa, of Bobobun was going to be there and it’s so long since I last went!

hollyhocks - Little Vintage Lover Fair

It’s such a gorgeous venue, the quintessential English village, part of a large estate with no through road so it’s very peaceful.

Heydon - Little Vintage Lover FairHiggins was delighted with the park…

Higgins at theLittle Vintage Lover Fair…and met some lovely people to talk to outside the tearooms…

Tea rooms, Heydon - Little Vintage Lover Fair

The venue itself was in an early 20th century Army hut, with stalls both inside and out and there was so much to see…

Heydon Village Hall - Little Vintage Lover Fair

car at  Little Vintage Lover Fair

Stalls at Little Vintage Lover FairWe found Bobobun inside, (call over to the blog to see lots more photos!)…

Bobobun Stall at Little Vintage Lover Fair

..and Higgins was delighted to meet Lisa and Little Bun.  He was also pleased to find he was not the only visiting dog so it was an interesting day for him too!

Higgins&pal

(He’s always a little cautious about bigger dogs who might stand on him as you can see!)

This week he’s spent quite a bit of time in the studio helping me (commandeering a crochet blankie to make under the desk extra comfy) while I get ready for the next needlefelt workshop at Arts Desire.

mini dachshund and crochet throw

I’ll tell you more about it after Saturday, but this time we are making mice.  Would you like to see?

Needlefelt Mouse

I’ll be back soon….x

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