Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Here is where the heart is at present. Isn't it lovely? Surrounded by fields (and noisy trees at this time of year) within a walk of the cafe at the main house (which also has formal gardens, a maze, birds of prey, a 4x4 track... great fun!)and it has the space we need. Although that space is still hidden under boxes as I have so many books, I've run out of where to put them... much to the chagrin of himself!

But at least my 2 metre long work table is up - and will be a fabulous work surface when all the rubbish on top of it finds a home. Broadband still isn't up (thanks BT) even after 1.5 hours on the phone to them on Sunday (I do hope it was a freefone number) but at least we have dial up (if I have the patience).

And the walks are lovely, although only truly enjoyed at the weekends as it's dark when I rise to walk Carter, and dark when I get home, but at least I know it's all there. Lots of dog walkers use the lane for their pooches, luckily they're all a decent bunch and don't leave presents (if you know what I mean)but it's the cars at night which are a little off-putting - and the torch light twinkling through the trees when I take C out for his last run before bed... gives me the creeps (but then I had to sleep with a light on at night when young!).

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another Inspiration

Talking of being inspired, two of my bestest artists with fabric are the reason I need more space! Well, okay, that's not entirely true - my love of fabric far precedes their inspiration.

The first is Janet Bolton. An amazing artist with a naive yet sophisticated style I would love to emmulate even slightly. I can't wait until next June when I'm attending a two day workshop with my bestest chum in Cornwall with Janet at the helm. I keep jotting ideas and thoughts into my sketchbook for possible Boltonesque pieces but, until now, I've not had the wherewithall to even start (poor excuse, I am aware, but it IS one!).

The second in the lovely Linda Miller. Her creations are in thread and are so textured and scrumptious I want them all. I sat in on a masterclass Linda held at the craft fair in Bovey Tracey earlier this year - and she is a lovely lovely person too!
The subtelty of her creations is fantastic and they look so simple - but really truly they're not... I know, I've tried. Well, I didn't even manage to start stitching because my sewing machine (a fabulous Singer I spent ages finding) won't allow the feed dogs to drop, neither will the sewing foot raise high enough to slip in an embroidery ring.... I feel another sewing machine will need to be purchased... and how do I explain that one away when the current incumbent is perfectly fine for, well, sewing?!

And don't you just love it when your memory drags something up from the depths and you find a relevant link to take your thoughts even further? Here is the fabulous '>Jane and her Linda-Milleresque creations from a while ago.... my goodness, 2005! Oh well, this style has longevity!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sooo Busy

And sooooo bad not have posted for so long. Lots has happened since my last post - and the most important has been we have moved! Our new abode is a beautiful Victorian lodge house set on a private estate, surrounded by countryside in East Devon. It also means I now have SPACE - space to create, space to do, space to think, space to store - space to be... ahh, lovely.

I have been inspired today by a wonderful artist called Annora Spence who creates naive and quirky pieces of work - I'm hoping to own some of her prints, but just looking at them inspires me.

My other inspiration of the moment (and has been for a year or more) is Sam Toft. Similar style, slightly less abstract and more illustrative in a strange descriptive way - I love the mini storylines attached to some of her pictures (even just a phrase becomes so evocative). I own a lovely collection of Sam's prints - and she also has inspired me to get creative and DO.

What do you think?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Carter - 6 Today!

Happy Birthday to our big boy! Love him to bits.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Mamo!

I wish I had a relevant photo to post to support this, but none available on my digital stuff (will try to find one for you). My mummy's 74 today, I wish I could be with her to spend the day, but she lives in London and I'm hoping to see her later this month.

Makes you realise how important family is at times like this. I watched two episodes of Jane Eyre last night on the BBC (am I the only person who hasn't read this classic - I was in my rebellious phase at school when we studied this text - as I didn't know what to expect of the storyline and was gutted when Rochester produced his first wife!?!) and seeing the tale unravel of Jane's lack of family made me stop and think I was very lucky to have both parents and all siblings around, albeit far away.

Anyway, love you Mamo and see you soon! xxx

Friday, October 06, 2006

As Promised

Okay, not just the bouquet I mentioned recently, but also the wedding cake - yum (a croquembouche, traditional in Italy (although many say it originated in France... either way, a fabulous alternative to traditional fruit cake): lots of profiteroles stuck together with spun suger over the top).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Religious Beliefs!

Our village is quite small (perhaps 300 souls maximum), unfortunately without a shop but it does have a good pub - and what every village has in England: a church - we're extra lucky in that we have a newly refurbished and extended church hall too.

Community spirit focuses around either one or other of the religions: drink or God! Ours is, ruefully, based around the former and I sometimes feel we're missing out on a lot of civilisation by not deferring to the latter. I know we're also avoiding a lot of olds and gossip, but isn't that part of the joys of village life?

Anyhow, I love churches (in fact all architecture) so here is our beautiful church, with the George Cross flying, from near and across the valley on my walk last Sunday.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Forward Planning

I've never been very good at forward planning: what's here today is what I focus on. I'm sure I'll regret it later in life when I want (and need) a nice juicy fat pension... perhaps this is the dawn of a new awareness?!

I've admired other people's planting scheme - especially Jane's love of her garden, which shines through in her blog (a daily must read for me - my normality!) - so it was with a light step that I visited the garden centre planning for spring.

Knowing that we are planning to move in the near future to somewhere larger, the emphasis was for replanting the summer bedding in our large pots, and I decided that spring would be a nice aim. So, the following have gone in:

And I'm desperate for more...!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Local View

The leaves are just beginning to turn here in Devon... autumn is on its way. I love this season, but not the changing of the clocks we have here at the end of October... winter is on it's way, a season I don't much like. Too much expectation, too many forced festivities, and it's a time something always goes wrong for me! Perhaps that's in my mind and it's something I need to change - and just accept and love all the seasons. A new season resolution then!

The September Flower is still in bloom (just) - this was in my hair and in my bouquet on my wedding day back in 2000... along with Delphinium, big bloomed deep red roses... I'll find a photo for you one day.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hello World!

I'm back! After a prolonged absence, nobody's fault but my own... I just felt uninspired to blog... I'm back! Nothing other to add today, just: watch this space!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Naughty Zoot; Naughty, Naughty Zoot...

(reference to Monty Python's Holy Grail - good but Life of Brian is better!).

Many, many apologies for being absent - I will attempt to catch up over the next few days. Lots of changes: I'm now freelance (couldn't stand the corporate thing any longer) and loving it. The Man says he has a new wife (let me at her: I'll claw her eyes out!) cos I'm so chilled now - that's a first for a very long time...

Bye for now - I feel better having logged in.

Yesterday at Exmouth beach...

thank you mummy - that was fun - Carter xxx

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Not that we celebrate in our household... The Man doesn't believe in such exploitation (methinks its just cos he's useless at getting things for birthdays too!). So, to cheer us up, here's a beautiful picture I took in St Ives, Cornwall, just this morning.

And, here are the finished bootees - finally!

I gave up on an adornment for the brown cashmere bootees so they're going naked...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lots of Photos

The finished socks went off to my mum a couple of days ago:

Lovely flowers arrived from my MIL to say how pleased they were I am safe...

And some beautiful flowers arrived from my friend Bridget...

What a beautiful morning here in cold and sunny Devon!

And you don't get to see the photos of my 'Airbag Black Eyes' from last Sunday (only now coming out) - pointed out by The Man. Gosh, doesn't I look luverly?!? You're so not seeing! The crash appeared in the local rag with a photo of the scene after I was taken away and before the police removed the vehicles - not something you want to send to your mum saying "Look, I'm famous" - I'll wait for something less frightening!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday

Okay, I cheated slightly - here's Carter!
He's much better looking thatn I you may see in future posts.
Love him xxx

Monday, February 06, 2006


This is the result of a teen-idiot overtaking another car coming up to a blind summit, with me coming the other way... ouch! Sadly the car was totalled - but thankfully neither Carter nor I were badly hurt at all, thank God. And this came hot on the heels of The Man and I finally deciding to hang on to the sexy Alfa rather than trading her in. Methinks some higher being has other ideas for our mode of transport (which temporarily will be a teeny tiny Corsa!!! Ha, elephant and bicycle spring to mind).

So, with a touch of whiplash and a cranky back and knee, I decided to stay home and listen to the new edition of Cast On (congrats Brenda by the way!) and not go to art group.

I also thought I'd let you see the photo of my dismal failure from last week - well, if I don't show my failures, how will you admire my better efforts?!?

Also - da daaaa - socks are finally done.

I'm so chuffed with these, my very first pair, and have decided that my mother can be the proud recipient (well, I hope proud) and they'll go off to her tomorrow. Now, which socks next? I'm thinking of the Web Socks by Erica Alexander (found on Interweaves' weabsite) or the so-famous Jaywalkers - and do I use Lorna's Laces or Rowan's Harris Yarns in 4-ply (that fab orange yarn)? Mmmmm...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Some new yummies

Naughty, naughty girl... bought the yarn from my LYS in Exeter, and the pattern and counter (great for socks I should think!) from Get Knitted (thank you Sue for the sock pattern - nearly finished!).

Talking of socks, the orange yarn is a tough feeling 4 ply which I thought would be great for some cabled socks, but still to find the pattern. Love the pattern but am trying not to think about big projects as I have so many potentials and I'm enjoying the likkle projects at present. I'm on the second sock now, in the Opal yarn I bought last week, and I'm really chuffed that they look so good. I've decided that socks need to be made in extra special yarn or at least be an extra special pattern to make it all worthwhile - any recommendations of yarn and/or patterns you've used and loved - let me know!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Socks! & A Hat!!

Just back from my art group (every Monday evening) and feeling a little dejected and demoralised. Working with oils tonight, which I hate, and I just overworked my image of an iris and totally ruined it - so much so that I can't even bear to show it here...

Finally finished the Clapotis Hat... the crown looks great, but not so happy with the size of the piece - just far too big. I sense another frogging coming on (is this a sign of becoming a more advanced knitter when you're happy to frog - or is it just as I'm getting older I'm getting a little more selective?

And - da daa - I started my first sock ever on Wednesday. Rather than risk my Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, I bought some Opal yarn to try all the skills needed. It's going great! A few ickies but noting to worry about. Just got to the Kitchener grafting stage which I need to find the sock knitting tutorial link which will help me do the job (this is a fab link by the way).

However, I bought some Jaeger Alpaca in a gingery-chocolate colour today in my LYS so perhaps I'll never quite get to use my Lorna's Laces?!?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Oh My God....

I can't believe it's been over a wek since my last post... time has just flown away! In the meantime, I've frogged my Clapotis hat and got to the picking up stitches stage for the replacement (having cocked up the pattern more than once I decided it was telling me somthing, so it had to go - in the past I'd just have put up with it and carried on, never being totally happy with the finished result which ended up languishing in a cupboard). Here's pics of the hat before the stitches are dropped, front and back.

Finally finished the flowers for one pair of bootees - but they look verrrry strange indeed: but hey ho, I'm calling it modern art and they're staying that way - what do you think?!?

Fingers are itching to start knitting socks having found a link to some wonderful video tutorials on another blog (if I find the link again I'll post it here) but am desperately trying to finish other projects first... will she, won't she?!? You'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Clapotis Hat - and a sad cake

Finally got stuck into the Clapotis Hat, mentioned previously, and it's going okay. I feel if when I get to the top of the hat, and it doesn't look right, I may have to frog it all and start again. I can see how fabulous it could look though - and it will be great to have the matching set... mmmm, what next?!?

Have finished knitting both the Knotted Bootees - but have fallen at the hurdle of the last tie needed for the final bootee... promise will finish by tonight!

And finally, I attempted a Victoria Sponge yesterday. Tastes lovely - filling of blackcurrant conserve with fresh raspberries and whipped cream (yes, I know, the diet!) - but the sponge itself didn't end up light and airy. It rose beautifully but collapsed soon after. Either the oven, or the KitchenAid mixer didn't put in enough air. Methinks it may be back to the old fashioned aching arm method next time - I've started limbering up!

Heading off to my local LYS today... I hear they have SWTC Bamboo in stock and I've not seen this one in the flesh... I feel a lighter purse will be in my handbag this evening!

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Feel much better today, I'm glad to say - so much so that I attempted a bit of cooking.

I keep saying that baking is my forte, but The Man finally reminded me that I hadn't actually baked for a verrrry long time (18 months or so) so either shut up or put up. So, what do expect a girl to do... et voila: a coffee and walnut cake (thanks to Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries I'm drooling over at present).

On a roll, a friend of ours popped over for coffee and lent us his copy of Preserved (by Sandler & Acton with foreward by much admired self sufficiency guru Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)... and I fell in hunger with the lamb tagine recipe and the accompanying recipe for preserved lemons. So, here's a couple of jars I just rustled up!!

No knitting today, but here's a pic of a gorgeous felt corsage I picked up in France over Christmas... isn't it gorgeous. And here's my future versions of it... yeah, hell of a way away I know, but you'll have some after pics soon (promise!).

Best go and try that yummy cake (after the roasted fennel and confit de canard in the oven) - gosh, the veritable Martha Stewart (ummm, best not - can't stand enclosed spaces...).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Another day.. another headache - another decision!

Still not 100% today so I'll keep this short and maybe sweet.

Decided to do the right thing and stick with the knot bootees - this'll keep The Man happy that I'm still on track! However, Lord things are sent to tempt us... look at this yummy skein just arrived from HipKnits (thank you...!) which my fingers itched towards to 5.5mm needles to knit up a scrummy hat. But, commons sense (or the flu capsules) prevailed and I'll wait until my current needles are free - boo hoo...

Can't stop surfing and reading other blogs at present (wasting good knitting time I hear you cry) and there's so much fun, inspiration and cynical words out there it really warms the cockles of me heart!

Thought for the day: knitting is good for you - official. It releases similar natural chemicals that meditation does - so, ya boo sucks to you: I'm off knitting (after the cough medicine tho!).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Knitting Saga - not quite an Aga Saga!

I'm really suffering from flu at present and have nobody to talk to so I'm taking it out on my blog!

I mentioned previously that I have a known tendency to start things and not finish them - even if all it takes is to block and make it up. Ladies and gentlemen... this has now changed! On Christmas Day I started knitting a Clapotis in Noro’s Silk Garden (colour 224)... and finished it on the 4th January - yay! I was like a woman possessed, knitting at every opportunity possible with this gorgeous yarn. I found the pattern easy - although I couldn’t for the life of me work out ssk (having a blonde day) so just did k2tog instead. I don’t think it shows on the pattern, although others may argue - I just don’t care... it’s finished!! I found great enthusiasm and encouragement listening to some knitting podcasts, especially Brenda Dayne’s Cast-On - thank you soooo much Brenda, I feel you are a true friend and I don’t even know you!

I taught myself to knit when I was about 7 years old, much to my mother’s amazement: seeing me knitting in very thick, bright orange wool on huge wooden needles (I’m sure in hindsight it was only 5mm needles and aran weight wool but to a wee sprog this seemed huge). Both my mother and grandmother were very prolific craftswomen: knitting, quilting, sewing clothes, weaving, etc, that I know this is where I got my enthusiasm for all things handmade.

Growing up in a liberal and quite bohemian atmosphere with a mother who was keen to generate a replica of The Good Life in west London where we lived, which then expanded to a cottage in Gloucestershire (near the current home of HRH don’t you know!) for weekends. Couldn’t have been easy to do holding down a full-time teaching job, bringing up 4 children, running a household with your mother incumbent and your husband working long hours... phew, makes me feel tired thinking about it! I remember going to bed when I was about 8 or 9 with my mother starting cutting out a pattern for a dress for me and then getting up in the morning to a finished garment - she must have worked until 2am and then got up at 6am to prepare breakfast for us all! I never really appreciated what she did for us, so my way of giving thanks (apart from saying I love you Mamo!) is to be creative myself - damn I thought she had a spinning wheel which is what I’d like to try next, but unfortunately not (The Man wouldn’t agree with me and will be thanking all deities that it doesn’t exist...).

Since the wonderful Clapotis - of which you will no doubt see many versions of this very ‘now’ pattern online (for once, I’m current - yippee) - I have knitted a couple of pairs of really sweet bootees for a friend who’s just had a beautiful baby girl called Alannah - one made from Rowan’s Kid Classic in cream and the other in Rowan’s Cashsoft DK in a coffee colour. Both pairs finished (and stitched into shape) and just waiting for adornment - I thought I’d make some teeny felted flowers using needle felting with maybe a seed bead or two - what do you think?

My dilemma is what next? I’ve started another pair of bootees (all of these are from Zoe Mellor’s book 50 Baby Bootees to Knit) this time some knot bootees using Rowan Kidsilk Haze in cherry - but the needles are tiny and I have to use the yarn doubled and they’re horrid to knit...taking forever. Finished one bootee so I suppose I’d best stick with it and finish the second especially after all’s been said above!

Perhaps then the French Market felted bag from Knitty, or a Clapotis Cap from Needles & Hooks, or socks from Lorna’s Laces Shepherd’s Sock Yarn just waiting in the shadows for me to try my hand at socks...the list goes on (just like my posts - sorry). And I’ve fallen in love with the Eris cardigan from the girl from auntie, but it looks darn complicated for my present state of mind.

Best go and knit - will try not to have verbal diarrhoea next time.... as if!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

This is me...

The Man calls me a butterfly - nothing to do with my stature (more about that one later) but more about my tendency to get fired up and excited about a new project, work on it for a short while and then flutter onto the next one - from flower to flower! I'd like to use this blog to bring some order, reason, and yes even some sanity to my creativity! If I see all my projects and plans written down, and actually think about them in detail, perhaps some sense will prevail before I flutter onto the next one. I have so many ideas and I know I can actually do most of these if I set my mind to it so I want to physically do them all - how mad am I?!? Jack of all trades and master of none is how I sometimes feel...

A little about me to set the scene: I'm 39, married, no kids, a cat (PC for Pussycat aka Whinging Minnie) and a beloved dog (Carter, a gorgeous big Golden Retriever who keeps me sane). We live in a beautiful part of England, East Devon to be precise, a couple of miles as the crow flies to the sea. We also own a barn in Normandy, France, which we are slowly renovating (hope to have it habitable this summer - but don't hold your breath cos you may go blue!). So we trundle across the Channel every so often - not often enough for our liking.

I work as an interior designer for Fired Earth where I cover a huge territory - the entire south west of England - aaargh! Theoretically this is a lovely job: be nosey in peoples' houses and then tell them what to do... doesn't quite pan out that way! Previous lives have seen me work in IT for IBM, in the NHS as a business/marketing manager, in motorsport doing PR and in intellectual property licensing (sounds flash but simply put its selling image banks - or 'properties' to companies to use on their merchandise, eg Peter Rabbit/Beatrix Potter for clothing or ornaments or toys).

What else? I qualified with a post-grad diploma in Essential Oil Therapy for Animals in 2002 (part-time and boy was it hard work) as I love animals and love holistic healing methods such as aromatherapy. Haven't pushed this side of my life as I seem to get entangled in so many other projects to have time. I also write articles for a couple of local magazines (Devon Today and EX1) mainly about interior design, but want to expand this side of my skill-set and see if I can get more work from national magazines this year (oh no, sounds a little like a new year resolution.... don't do them...). I'm also involved with a local art group - but more of this later.

I'm a keen knitter but very very rarely manage to finish a project off - being the proverbial butterfly in picking up the needles, having bought the yarn (and yes, I am a yarn snob - no acrylic at all for me!), start the jumper or cardigan, whatever, and even sometimes manage to virtually finish the item - but then get bored with it and move on. I recently cleared out our loft and gave away most of my knitting yarn and half-finished jumpers (some going back 22 years...) and have only kept half a dozen with the intention of actually finishing them (or at least frogging and reusing the yarn - now why didn't I do that with all the yarn... no, don't go there!).

God, so many plans and dreams and so little time. And I haven't even touched on my art and craft hopes and projects ... more another time!