cats, craft, crochet, knitting, music, Uncategorized, yarn

Top Ten Review of the Year

Well, another prolonged absence due to work – I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, but next year I will make more time to post on my blog as I have missed not being able to post so regularly.¬† Getting organised is half the battle I think…

This year has been an interesting one (in all senses of the word!) – a new addition to my family (OK, so he’s a kitten) and a rebranding of my blog and business as well as opening my Etsy Shop.

Add to that the most manic year of my (full-time) working life and major changes within my working structure – which are all still in a state of flux!

But in many ways a fantastic year, much love and laughter with friends and family, and finding a kindred spirit in crafting in my friend Anna (and her five-year-old Mikey who’s favourite phrase is now “let’s get crafting!”)

So here is my Top Ten Review of the Year on looking back through my blog, I do hope you enjoy it!

One – The arrival of Sir Patrick of Naughtiness

As an Astronomy geek, I managed to persuade Anna and Mikey to name their rescued kitten Professor Brian (Cox) after everyone’s favourite physicist and ex-popstar.¬† I was amazed they went with it…

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I was even more amazed that I ended up rescuing his brother, whom I named Sir Patrick (Moore) after the famous and much beloved Astronomer and BBC Presenter (RIP).¬† It particularly helped that he had a squinty eye in which I could imagine the real Sir¬† Patrick’s monocle.¬† I met the real Sir Patrick¬†once, he was absolutely delightful, and was very kind to me when another celebrity was very rude to me (you know who you are, Michael Fish!).

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Two РOpening my Etsy Shop

This was a long-term aim over the year and was delayed many times due to factors outside of my control!  In the end it was opened in October and I had my first sale within 24 hours.

I haven’t quite had the time since then to promote it as much as I would like, and I have exciting plans for my Etsy shop¬†for 2016, so my upcoming week off in February will be spent at home getting things sorted…

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Three – Vintage Shopping at the Car Booty

Regular readers will know that I love a bargain.¬† Most Sundays I can be found at Frome Car Boot Sale, rummaging around in other people’s junk.¬† For several months this year I had an amazing run on vintage notions and patterns and went a bit overboard buying them.

I have now decided to offload some of them in 2016 when I take part in a Craft Fair which also lets you sell related goods.  Some, though, I cannot bear to part with!

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Four РYarn, lovely Yarn

I wrote about my yarn addiction on several occasions, it has perhaps got a little out of hand, especially after I visited the Kensington Olympia Knitting and Stitching show in March – but I did get some beautiful yarns, including the cashmere / cotton blend to make this lovely shawl on my Etsy Shop.

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Five – Devon knows how they make it so lovely

Through my lovely friend Anna, I’ve had the chance to visit Chagford, in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor, twice this year for Craft Fairs.¬† Such a beautiful place and the people are so friendly and welcoming, it’s a real treat to visit there. ¬†Bonus treat – the tiny ponies and other cute critters at the Miniature Pony Centre nearby.

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Six – Holidays-a-go-go!

I’ve been extremely lucky this year with holidays – having a gorgeous week in Marbella in March, with Mum, and then again in Bayeux in June with Mum, Dad and my brother.¬† The first time we’d all been away together for several years.¬† Both were fabulous holidays, much needed and much enjoyed, and allowed me to expand my stash even more with some really lovely yarns and notions (as well as some cheeky¬†goats producing the softest mohair)

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Seven – My first giveaway of Crochet Patterns

In October I gave away the pattern for my first designed project, some mini Halloween Treat Baskets – to fill with yummy chocolates.¬† I had great fun designing the different faces and putting together a beginner’s project which I was happy to share for free.¬† Although a simple design, it has given me a taste for more!

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Eight – Geek Loveliness

A fabulous year of nerd-dom¬†has been bookended by Star Wars. ¬†In May I posted about my trip to Marbella and the surprise of hearing a youth orchestra starting up with the Star Wars¬†soundtrack – I have never departed¬†a cafe in such a hasty fashion¬†before… ¬†In May I also posted a cheeky geeky guide and then followed up with a visit¬†to the Doctor Who Exhibition in September with my family. ¬†There is an adventure to go through which is rather interactive – I was more scared than the kids!

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Nine – Animals A-Plenty

It never surprises me that my most popular posts tend to be around my two black cats, Ella and Sir Patrick.  After all, they are endless sources of amusement to me!

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Ten – Art and Crafts

And back to my main loves Рart and crafts.  In April I visited Standen, a home filled with delights from the Arts and Craft movement which I so admire.  Moving on to June I waxed lyrical about Salvator Rosa, one of my favourite artists, and in July I wrote about the beautiful lace that I encountered on my goaty adventures in Bayeux (and of course the famous Tapestry).

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And finally, throughout the year I have been extolling the virtues of crafting,¬†thank you for joining me on my journey this year, and here’s to 2016!

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Feeling Festive and Feline Fun!

Since my last post, so much has happened. ¬†Having had nearly a month off from posting due to a mad few weeks at work which has consumed all of my time and energy, I’m finally having some time to myself and am able to get back to my crafting (and blogging!)

I completed two Craft Fairs, the one in Devon went really well and I enjoyed the mini-break, meeting some lovely folks.  I then did a small Christmas Fair locally which was not so successful, but great fun nonetheless.

Adding to all the madness is the preparations for a certain festive period – I have done most of my Christmas shopping, and am now moving on to last-minute gift-making…

First off is a crocheted scarf for my Dad which I am making in Katia Kathmandu – a gorgeous colourway in blue/green/grey which hopefully keep him toasty warm through this winter.

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Next up is a scarf for my brother РI am trying to decide whether I have enough time to knit this or if I should crochet it a bit more quickly.  Again I have decided on a Katia yarn РBasic Merino Flash, a soft wool/acrylic mix with a soft variegation in colour from bright crimson to a more mellow maroon.  My brother looks fantastic in red and as both he and Dad loved the scarves I made previously, I hope they do also with these.

 

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My Mum is also getting something, but as she reads my blog I am not putting anything on here about it – she will just have to wait and see!

Another present in the making is an upcycled project that I made and then was never happy with.  It is a lovely pattern and the first major item I made when I learnt to knit.  It is from the book Knitty Gritty by Aneeta Patel, whom I wholeheartedly recommend as a knitting teacher.  I wish I could have made it to one of her classes, but the two Knitty Gritty books gave me a firm foundation to start from.

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I am going to remove the pink flower (which I only put on as a tester) and am going to crochet some pretty embellishments around the shoulders of the hot water bottle.  This has been sadly sitting in a box since I made it, and Anna has remarked on it a few times, so I hope she likes the final result.

I will then turn my hand to a secret project for my little friend Mikey, who turns 5 on Boxing Day. ¬†I may not complete it in time, so will save it as a January present…

And finally, a project for myself РMum and I had our annual pilgrimage to Peter Jones in Sloane Square (part of the John Lewis brand) and we saw some beautiful yarns.  I bought some for myself which I am going to knit up on different sized needles.  This stunning yarn is Debbie Bliss Angel Prints, Kid Mohair and Silk, as soft and strong as you would expect with that gorgeous mix.

I have never made anything for myself so this is going to be fun.  I am going to try it with 3 1/4 mm and 5 mm needles and adjust it if I am not happy with the result.

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Finally, a little update on Sir Patrick, who is now 7 months old and a real purr-sonality. ¬†He doesn’t ever stay still enough to take any pictures, but I managed to snap these today. ¬†He is fascinated by all the knitting and crochet activity and has a penchant for lace (he has excellent taste!).

The final picture is just typical Sir Patrick. ¬†He was checking out the camera lens and managed to fog it up with his breath, in true soft focus style… ¬†Ella is just beginning to cope better with him, and he is calming down a little, which is a relief for us all!

 

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What a week! Thank heaven for Devon…

 

I am so looking forward to next weekend after what has been a rather stressful week…

Sir Patrick the kitten has been ill and undergoing various tests – thankfully it all seems to have resolved and he is now his usual – completely mental –¬†self.

I have have some big changes afoot at work Рthese will involve periods of anxiety and increased workload for my team.  Luckily, I have a positive outlook, so with the support of others, I am sure we will overcome!

There is one piece of news, though,¬†which has perked me up no end… ¬†I have a small Craft Fair to attend in Chagford, a beautiful village in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor National Park.

 

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My crafting buddy Anna and I last¬†attended this Craft Fair back in April – hark back to¬†this post, where we met the tiny ponies, lambs and where I bought these lovely felting bits from Jean at¬†Kaeravel Krafts¬†(and had a free drop spinning lesson into the bargain)…

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Last time we enjoyed our trip so much that we gladly accepted the invitation to come back for their Christmas Fair. ¬†I have been busy making some festive items¬†(along with a baby blanket I have been crocheting for a friend – more of that later…) – here is a sneak peek of some of the goodies I will be taking with me!

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Christmas stockings Рmini sized but big enough for some festive treats.  Just need to be sewn up and a sweet Christmas star crocheted on to the front.

 

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Christmas puddings –¬†they are festive treats for place settings¬†– hiding¬†a chocolate underneath.¬†I always sell out of these, so am attempting¬†a factory production line of them (total staff: me – with ‘help’ from Sir Patrick). ¬†I will only have time to make about two dozen of them for next weekend.

Finally two new ideas – this appears to be white but it’s actually a lovely soft cream colour – thought I might try to make a festive wreath… ¬†Not sure how it’s going to look but experimentation is half the fun!

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Lastly a¬†bit of a strange idea¬†I had, based on an idea from Craftseller Magazine (sadly no more…) of making gift tags in the shape of Christmas presents. ¬†The original idea was of birds with lovely embroidery, but it was too labour-intensive – this is a bit quicker, but I still find myself spending ages sorting through my stash to find all of the sparkly bits I am after! ¬†The back has a pouch for a piece of card to be slipped in with the name of the recipient… ¬†These are a bit of a work in progress but I like the concept.

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More news when I return from Devon!

 

 

 

 

 

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Devon, Crafting Genii and Tiny Ponies

Well, what a lovely weekend it was!

Spring had definitely sprung and I had a wonderful time in Devon.

My friend Anna and I packed¬†up the car and left at 6am – getting in there for 8.30 ready to set up our stall at the Craft Fair. ¬†It was reasonably busy in the morning and I did pretty well. ¬†Then, a mini disaster…

The drains in the hotel blocked up and they in turn blocked off the front door (where we were) so we had much less passing custom in the afternoon.  So we had to make our own amusement!

I had an impromptu drop spinning class from the brilliant Jean and Martin from Kaeravel Krafts and made just a few purchases of their gorgeous products, and one day I will understand the terminology Рcarrier rods, silk noil, burrs and nepps!

 

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I also met Richard Albon, a phenomenally talented artist, and bought a few things (which I can’t share here as certain people may see them!) but I really do recommend his site, particularly for those amongst us who are animal lovers.

So, a lovely, but not quite so productive, day was had by all. ¬†And I did learning something interesting, again I have managed to sell all of my girls’ headbands – this was one line I was going to give up making when I sell online, but now I’m not so sure!

 

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I crawled into bed at 9pm, absolutely shattered!  What a comfortable night I spent at the gorgeous Farleigh Cottage B&B in Chagford, run by the lovely Lyn, who looked after us so well and furnished us with the most wonderful cooked breakfast on Sunday morning.

Just enough time then to pop to the Miniature Pony Centre Dartmoor on the way back, what a well organised and fun place to visit.  We arrived at the perfect time, bottle feeding time for the lambs.  Let me introduce you to the delectable Snowy, (my disembodied arm giving him his much-needed grub) Рhe was such a character, he made a bolt for us the second he was let out.  His wool was so thick, fluffy and soft РI was tempted to offer to borrow it and knit him up a waistcoat, but for once I had to put my woolly tendencies on hold!

 

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We then met the donkeys and ponies, many of them rescued. ¬†As well as horses, donkey, ponies and lambs, they have a wide variety of other animals and have activities throughout the day. ¬†Just follow the chap ringing the bell…

 

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I do rather like the fact that this final picture includes a tiny pony or two seeming to stand on top of another rather small pony.  That makes my random little brain very amused!

Happy crafting…

 

Lou x

 

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Standen delivers…

I have had a really busy couple of weeks, planning for a Craft Fair I will be doing in Devon on Saturday.

It involves a long drive and a very early start, but hopefully then an evening in a nice Devon pub and a glass or two of tipple to warm me ol’ cockles!

In the meantime I spent a lovely weekend with Mum and Dad over Easter, we had lots of fun and I was thrilled to see Mum knitting, she has developed quite a taste for it! ¬†We are going to Spain again soon so hopefully will take some projects with us…

We visited a¬†National Trust property –¬†Standen – which is absolutely wonderful, and well worth a visit. ¬†Sadly I hadn’t charged my camera so I couldn’t get any pictures. ¬†Standen is a beautiful arts and crafts house, built in the 1890s and is filled to the brim with the most wonderful arts and crafts architecture, furnishings and art.

 

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Most of the textile furnishings are from the unspeakably talented William Morris & Co, which are still running today, now owned by Sanderson.  Some of their wallpapers on sale today bear the name Standen.  The rich greens, russets and golds are a joy to behold.

William Morris was a designer, artist, writer and activist and was a dominant force in the Arts & Crafts movement Рclosely linked to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Рwhose works are also dotted around the house.

Both groups had a huge social conscience and were concerned¬†about the rise of industrialism and wanted beauty and purpose from items, reflecting a return to the handiwork of previous ages. ¬†There is a very famous quote attributed to William Morris – “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

How true that is, this is something that has always inspired me – I am yet to fully achieve it I think, but this is certainly the dream for most of us!

Some of the textiles at Standen were made as kits by William Morgan and the family themselves (well, I am rather assuming, the ladies of the family) completed them.  The design was pressed onto the fabric almost like painting by numbers, not dissimilar from the tapestry kits you can buy today in any haberdashery!  You can see the differences in the quality and individuality of the work between different family members and some pieces must have taken several people many months or perhaps years to complete.

Another artist and prolific ceramics¬†maker was William de Morgan, who became friendly with William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. ¬†His name was not so well known to me, but his tiles, vases and other ceramics were so beautiful and evocative of the Persian style and colour palette which he loved¬†so well. ¬†This is one from the de Morgan collection, but there were many similar at Standen. ¬†Rich opulent colours which always hold me in rapture…

 

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There is much further evidence of these two social / art movements in William Morris’s house – the¬†Red House¬†in Bexleyheath – on the South London / Kent borders, again an inspirational National Trust property well worth a visit.

My favourite of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is Dante Gabriel Rossetti – mainly because of his work, but also the rich stories you hear of his excesses, including a love of exotic animals, which he rather took to the extreme by having a Toucan riding a Llama around his dining room as a party trick. ¬†This is one of his most famous paintings, ‘The Day Dream’. ¬†And who was the¬†muse and lover employed here¬†as a model? ¬†None other than¬†William Morris’s wife, Jane.

 

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And if you fancy delving more into their stories, albeit slightly embellished, the BBC series Desperate Romantics, with the gorgeous (and now rather¬†famous) Aidan Turner¬†plays¬†the dashing and delicious Dante…

 

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Happy (arts and) crafting!

 

Lou

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Busy times!

Apologies for my absence Рafter my stall in beautiful Bradford-on-Avon I was knocked down by laryngitis and a phone that suddenly shuffled off this mortal coil Рtaking all of my piccies from the day with it!

But great news from that day – I sold almost all of my crocheted poppies – I’ve got a couple left that are going to a good home, so I will have earnt ¬£20 for the Royal British Legion.¬†

 

Kindness and crafting go hand in hand!

 

I also did very well with my pumpkins and sold all of these at the fair and afterwards the leftovers to my work colleagues, they went down a treat (literally, as they were stuffed with chocolates!)

 

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I’ve also been asked to supply some goods for a very upmarket Craft Fair in Devon this weekend, my friend’s Mum is running it – so we have both posted off a package of our favourite top-notch products.¬† Fingers crossed for a good result – I wish I could be there with all of my goodies in person, but it’s several hours away!¬† Here’s one of my Japanese-style Origami bags which are on their way to luscious Devon!

 

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My friend is making wonderful needle-felted animals – they are so gorgeous and she’s doing a range as brooches and one as Christmas decorations.¬† I will have to get some photos of them and post on here – she is so talented and she doesn’t even know it.¬† Bear, badger, fox, reindeer – I want one of all of them!

So just a short update for now РI have another fair mid-November so am still busy making some more bits and bobs!  I wonder what everyone else is working on Рis it all Christmassy items?

Happy crafting.

 

Lou x

 

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