Friday, November 21, 2008

Chestnuts roasting by the open fire...

Corny old song lines always get to me.

Although this isn't an open fire, and certainly isn't a chestnut, I'm pleased with these socks which I presented to my brother for his recent big birthday. Although his reaction was a little underwhelmed, once DH had proudly shown him his own handmade socks (on his feet, lilttle love) my bro realised that this was a labour of love and something money couldn't buy.

I forget that non-knitters, and people not subjected to living with a knitter, just don't get the time and effort that goes into a knitted object. I like to say that a hand-knitted sock or scarf is like being wrapped in love!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Missing... no action!

Okay, I didn't mean to be silent for so long. Just happened! Life gets in the way and all of a sudden it's months later... thanks Sue of Eco-Tricot for prodding me to blog again! The meme you've tagged me with will appear very soon, promise.

Here's a few pics to brighten the day. I took Carter down to Branscombe for a walk this morning as it is so beautifully sunny here. He loves his trips to the seaside - in fact he virtually howls until you let him out of the back of the car once he smells the sea! Very embarrassing if anybody's about.

The walk from the village down to the beach is a lovely one, level paths meandering over the stream leading out to the sea. And then the wide expanse of pebble beach with views far and wide. Perfect!

Somebody here seems to be enjoying himself!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

First Foray Into The World of Dyeing

I purchased a starter kit from DT Crafts way back in December 2005, when I first had the urge to create my own personalised yarn. This, typically, got shelved and packed away - until now. Resurrected and used... however, things didn't turn out quite as initially planned!

My initial idea was to create skeins of duck egg blue with chocolate and some undyed bits, plus an alternative of pale pink and chocolate. Colourways which are much easier to find nowadays then they were even just 2.5 years ago - but that wouldn't stop me trying now.

I very carefully read the instructions, carefully measuring and noting all I had done (creating a stock solution of 1% of the turquoise and of the dark brown) and decided on using a turkey baster to add the dye to the presoaked yarn and then microwaving it.

First mistake: too much dye. No undyed bits remained.

Second mistake: was it me, or was it the long timespan since I purchased the dye, but the dark brown came out maroon! I decided to limit myself to two colours initially so the red wasn't used at all.

The yarn was rinsed until water ran clear, then hung to dry and re-skeined to mix the colours more evenly in the skein. I love it! Not what I had planned, but a great start nontheless with many points learned already - main one: leave the gorgeous colour dyeing to the professionals! Posh Yarn and Fybrespates cannot be beaten - but it's nice to try, even if it's just to know how time draining and complex the whole process can be.

I'd love to try natural dyes, but step by step, let's get this one right first...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Waiting (impatiently)

I absolutely adore books. I think I may have mentioned that before?

To have a book full of information is pure knowledge and with knowledge comes a feeling of empowerment. I hesitate to say a feeling of power because that sounds a tad megalomaniacal! I have always had the feeling that if I have the book, then I know how to do whatever it is the book is about - sometimes without even reading it, which is a bit daft... but the mind is a strange thing.

I glance at my bokshelves - which are a bit thinned out from our previous move as I had waaaay too many (much to the despair of himself) - and I get a feeling of joy to see such a varietey of subjects: complementary health (human and animal), jewellery making, quilting, calligraphy, knitting and crochet, marketing, Greek art, cookery, the list goes on...

I ordered a book online a couple of days ago which I am hoping will arrive today, by an author based in the States but with the most gorgeous rhythmic Icelandic name: Lotta Jansdotter. I love her work with textiles, very scandinavian (of course) and inspirational - taking me away from the cutesy Cath Kidston style popular for so long. It's a book on printing. I enjoyed printmaking and fabric printing during my years in school where I focused on all things art and it is something I would love to get involved with again.

But maybe not right now, with so many other things happening?!

Here's a pic of something which reminded me of Lotta's work, a silk cushion from Rockett St George with the most delightful printed motif - what do you think?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Drink for Lily the Pink!

Silly ditty going through my mind now :-)

I finally got round to rebottling the sloe gin I made way back in 2004 into some fab bottles purchased from Lakeland which are perfect to give as gifts (or just look good in the drinks cupboard!). I added some supar syrup as it tasted a tad sharp - and it was only when being organised and writing down the recipe in my new drinks book that I realised I had actually blended sloe gin with damson gin by mistake! Ho hum, I won't tell if you wont?

I also decided to make a raspberry gin out of our newly discovered loganberries - ready in 3 months time, great! Recipe is:

600g loganberries/raspberries
660g granulated sugar
4 x 75cl bottles of gin

All into a demijohn (cos I have loads now thanks to my mum and a kind soul in the town down the valley who wanted to pass on their winemaking equipment) and wait.

Sloe recipe is also simple, but need to find it - so will post this another day (I have over 1kg in the freezer from last autumn to bottle so it won't be long).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Enough to make you want to crochet...

Aren't these absolutely beautiful? Pics taken at the Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey recently and appeared on the Selvedge stand (boy, I love that magazine - textiles galore!).

These stunning pieces are created by French designer, Sophie Digard, and sell for quite high prices - although the work that goes into them, with the yarn being hand dyed and crochet up with an extremely thin ply, you can understand why. I have seen them for sale in Honfleur in Normandy and loved them at first sight - I would love to own one of these... but more so, I would love to try and crochet one myself!  Perhaps one day...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Time Flies!

Gosh, I didn't realise how long it has been since I last updated my blog! So, a quick post with some pics from the recent Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey.

I had time to attend on the first day, the Friday, in the afternoon and was lucky to be part of a workshop held by the fabulous Alison Willoughby of the fantastic skirts fame. Alison was fab - so quirky and outgoing, I really enjoyed a couple of hours as part of a group of 6 lucky peeps. The workshop made me feel like a 5 year old given freedom with a sewing machine! Great fun to have this freedom - it's not something we as adults often are able to do so, if given the opportunity, grasp it with both hands... enthusiastically!

Here are a few pics from the day, finishing off with my creation, modelled by Alison...

this one isn't mine (above) but an Alison W creation, showing the detailed rosette motif she uses.

More pics from the fair another day...

Monday, April 28, 2008


This is George - it took a few days to decide on his name and, wanting something solid and 'human-like' which is how I like my animal names. It was only after we named him, I was reminded of George Carter from The Sweeney, way back in the 1970's! Our George is not like Dennis Waterman's character at all!!

Work-wise... only 4 more full days to go before I venture into the unknown. I am so excited, and yet so worried. Hopefully the worry will just make me push for clients and thus gather lots of income :-)

Friday, April 25, 2008

One More Week to Go

I'm getting a bit stir crazy here now, very little work to do for the company who currently employ me, yet I have to work my notice period. One more week to go - last day is next Friday (2nd May).

Do you think I can get away with sending this poem (allegedly by Dr Seuss!)to all my colleagues (all 300 of them)?

I love my job, I love the pay!
I love it more and more each day.
I love my boss, he is the best!
I love his boss and all the rest.

I love my office and its location; I hate to have to go on vacation.
I love my furniture, drab and grey, and piles of paper that grow each day!
I think my job is really swell, there’s nothing else I love so well.
I love to work amongst my peers, I love their leers, and jeers, and sneers.
I love my computer and its software;
I hug it often though it won’t care. I love each programme and every file.
I’d love them more if they worked a while.

I’m happy to be here. I am. I am.
I’m the happiest slave of the Firm, I am.
I love this work, I love these chores.
I love the meetings with deadly bores.
I love my job – I’ll say it again – I even love those friendly men.
Those friendly men who’ve come today,
In clean white coats to take me away!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Not Bleached Bones At All

These stunning works of art do at times remind me of bleached bones - but I push myself over that thought as they somehow draw me in. Perhaps it's because of their 'organic-ness' and fluidity that creates some sort of resonance within me.

I collect driftwood of all sizes whenever we go walking on the beach, but seeing these takes the use of my finds to a different level. Absolutely stunning. They are created by a talented designer-maker called Karen Miller who trades under Devon Driftwood Designs and can be found here.

Another extremely inspirational artist is Heather Jansch, based in mid-Devon (I can't wait for her open studio dates as I will be there like a shot). Her sculptures/statues are amazing. What would you call them? Stunning, nothing less.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Career

I promised news on the work front, and I have taken irrevocable steps towards my new career as a freelance PR and features/copy writer. I resigned from my job nearly two weeks ago and it is only now beginning to sink in that I won't have a regular pay cheque coming in!

This fear has meant we will be cutting short our planned holiday in June down to one week and coming back so that I can work... sad or what? However, the long term benefits should make it worthwhile.

I can across a great website for quotations, something I'm always looking for to jazz up copy... how's this?

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


We have a new addition to the family!

Welcome to our, as yet unamed, lovely ginger boy - he's extra special as he has extra toes... locally known as a Dorset Thumb Cat the technical term is polydactyl and is supposedly common in the South West of England, South Wales and in New England. Polydactyl cats were considered to be lucky on board ship, which is perhaps why they are relatively common in New England with the link of the Pilgrim Fathers from Plymouth.

Anyhow, this little chap is about 2 years old and was sourced through the local branch of the Cats Protection League in East Devon. He was named 'Garfield' by the vet who took him in, but we're not keen on that name so are trying to think of alternatives.

He is a lovely pusscat, with a lot of purring to do - hoever, after the initial bravado of a new home, he's a little nervous especially of Carter and loud noises. To be expected no doubt and hopefully he'll settle happily soon.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tired Bunnies

What a great picture – my two most precious boys, tired out! Don’t know why, neither had done much :-)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One Track Mind

This must be my favourite shop in delightful Honfleur... an homage to chickens!

I once laughed dreadfully at a close friend's interest in chickens - and now I am the sufferer and she has moved on. Oh how she must be laughing back at me.

The obsession has turned to wanting real live chickens at home, which we will have one day soon. My fear is that if you have livestock, you must get used to dead-stock and living in the middle of fields we have not only foxes, but badgers and rats too....
I'm the sort of person that hasn't watched Black Beauty all the way through, nor Bambi - I just cry at the very thought of animals dying.

However, back to the chicken shop. It is a wonderful collection of ceramics, metalwork, postcards, paintings, and I'm determined to spend some of my Euros there this summer!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Still Alive... Still Struggling :-)

Yes, I know, my blogging hasn't been too good for the last year or so. Hey ho, I'm not going to add more to my Catholic ingrained angst, so I'm not going to worry!

However, I have been busy...

Here are a little collection of felt corsages which I made to sell via our local pub. A friend has a glass cabinet in the pub through which she sells some jewellery she makes - we're going to make this a more mixed-media affair and will add some turned wooden pieces too soon. It's not going to be a money spinner, but if I don't stop talking about doing something and get on with it, nothing will change, will it?

We've had a busy week this week - apart from Easter with friends (not good, she's very stressed out and very agressive - but it will ease off and things will get better - I'll just be here ready for her: isn't that what friends are for?) and then took two van loads of kitchen units to the barn in France to reduce the storage costs here in the UK.

We were very pleased to see all was well in our little corner of Normandy - and the sun shone brightly for our al fresco lunch in Honfleur: lovely!

I also have plans on the work front (does this count towards my happiness non-new year resolution? I hope so!) and will have more news soon... have to make sure I have more to write about later this week - bye for now!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Soft Suffolk

With a view to develop the creativity element of my non-new year decisions, I’m developing a little line of textile based items perhaps to sell on-line or through local boutiques, of which we have many here in the south west. I used to make Shaker inspired angels which I sold through word of mouth and through a lovely little gallery in Chipping Camden, but that was many eons ago so it seems a tad daunting.

Anyhow, the picture is of a couple of simple corsages being made from felt which are my starting point for this element of creativity.

At work, I’m searching for words to describe a new tile range we’re launching called Artisan and this has led me onto investigating the small towns of Suffolk in more detail due to the names chosen for the colours – the designer comes from Suffolk and loves the soft clear tones used by artists and artisans in the area. I want to find out more about these artists and the use they made of the soft light in this area, and area unknown to me as, when not in London, we spent time in the west country (apart from a holiday at a very young age in The Wash in the north of East Anglia).

It’s funny how one string of thought takes you down a totally unexpected route – but that’s what creativity is all about!

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I made none!

Over many, many years I continually make resolutions (some not for New Year, but hey, why should that stop me?) and generally don't stick to them (hence still needing to lose weight many years on.... So this year, I decided to not make any resolutions. Inspired by Brenda's comments on this subject in her podcast I know I am not alone - her suggestion is not to make resolutions, but decisions and actions. Very sensible.

So, my decisions:

1. health
2. happiness
3. creativity
4. organisation

My actions:

1. joined the gym full-time (not been yet as I have a really stinking cold still)
2. now, this could be the difficult one as you can't force yourself to be happy - so still working on the actions for this one
3. have jotted lots of ideas in my notebook and will tackle some of them this weekend
4. in progress! The house is far more tidy now thanks to our chums visiting for new year forcing us not to be ashamed of the mess, but I still need to organise my clothes and the paperwork in the office.

I'll let you know how I get on with my non-resolutions.

What were yours?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year...

... to you all! I have so many ideas whizzing around my head that you will see a hugely eclectic mix turn up here during the coming months.

From craft creativity to writing to house renovation to my own health and well-being, many strange thoughts will turn up to help me straighten out my little grey cells (you can tell Poirot is on TV this evening!).

The first picture of the year is of a large shallow bowl I made a few years ago, stoneware with a matt glaze - I was experimenting with these glazes for a while and I love the matt texture of the finished piece which is far from perfect I will be the first to admit. The bowl contains a few pieces of driftwood found locally at Branscombe and Budleigh Salterton - nature provides many things of beauty to show us simplicity is sometimes the key.

Here's to a healthy, happy and creative 2008!