My Blog List

Wednesday 30 October 2013


It's been a stitching frenzy around here recently. As well as the patchwork quilt which is shaping up nicely, I've had a go at some hexagon bunting. The idea for this came from Sarah Moore's Facebook page. Sarah wrote two of my favourite vintage craft books (the only two where I can follow the instructions easily), and this is my rough and ready version.

I shall be having a table at the Foxtail Lilly Christmas preview sale on November 8th in Oundle, Northants, so I need a few accessories to pretty up my stall. I thought this bunting might be good to decorate with, as it's cheerful but not too festive (November is still quite early to be really Christmassy).

I've also started to get some stock ready. I bought this old sewing basket at a car boot sale in the summer. It was pretty on the outside, but the inside was stained and torn, so I've given it a complete refurb:

I used fabric I bought in France last year to line the basket, and some gorgeous old braid that I picked up at a second hand stall ages ago. I was just waiting for the right project for this:

I'll post photos of a few items that I'm taking to the sale as I get them ready, and if anyone is interested in purchasing, just let me know and I can quote for postage etc. The sale itself takes place from 4pm-7pm at 41 South Road, Oundle, Northants on the 8th. Be lovely to see you if you live nearby! There will be some other vintage stalls, some handmade gifts, lots of twinkly lights, and a glass of fizz and a mince pie....

And I can't really sign off without showing you the progress of the quilt. I think I've got two or three more rows of patchwork to add now. It's getting quite unwieldy to work with now, it just about covers me completely as I sit stitching in the evenings. Just two eyes visible over the top! 

Wednesday 23 October 2013


Yesterday turned into a blaze of colour. First I picked up these amazing squash in the supermarket. Beautiful - and they'll make good soup. A dash into Matalan for a duvet then turned up these rather lovely Marimekko style tea towels at £1 each.

I've already used a bit of the red and orange one in my quilt. I was stitching last night as I watched the Great British Bake Off final. Frances was a worthy winner, but I felt myself rooting for Ruby because I disliked the vitriol she has attracted on some social media. There is far too much of that about at the moment. More people should take up craft: it has a very soothing effect if you're angry :)

Hope you have enjoyed today's shot of colour.

And one more of my Chinese lanterns ....

Saturday 19 October 2013

Autumn assortment

Over summer, I picked up a lot of second hand books at various sales and charity shops. Old books are the ultimate guilt-free purchase for me. They cost pennies, and they're easy to store, so if I see a good one or more, I get them. I've hardly had time to look at what I found during the last few busy months, so today I went through my boxes to see what I've got.

Old nature books are probably my favourites. A scrappy old cover can often hide beautiful illustrations inside, like this one.

And some great black and white illustrations too.

These three 'Little Guides' cost a bit more, but I fell in love with the cover illustrations.

The Derbyshire one is my favourite:

I found this copy of The Go-Between in a hospice shop.I had pinned the cover on Pinterest, never dreaming that I'd actually find the real thing - and especially not for 75p. But there it was:

One of my all-time favourite novels. LP Hartley was born in Peterborough, not too far from where I live. 

And finally, I just wanted to share these beautiful cards which I recently purchased from an artist called Kirsty Elson. I interviewed her for a magazine and thought that her driftwood sculptures were incredible. She has a Facebook page with a huge following. I'm not surprised. She is very talented.

Her autumn design is just beautiful.

You can purchase these cards via Kirsty's Facebook page. They cost £10 for five. All the pieces are made from recycled materials found on the beach near her home in Cornwall.

Monday 14 October 2013

My wardrobe and other stories

My parents kindly offered to buy me a new wardrobe for my birthday this year. The only proviso was: it must not be an old one. Mum had tangled with my previous wardrobe a year or so ago when I was in hospital and she came to collect some clothes for me. She was assaulted by an avalanche of jumpers, shirts and pyjamas which were straining behind the door (a wonky door that had a latch which needed a special twist to get it to shut). The only wardrobe I'd ever owned before that had collapsed due to a severe case of woodworm, so I had to agree that it might be nice to own something silky and new. It took me a long time to find a contender: the high street tends towards flat pack MDF or something with a huge price tag, neither of which would have worked.

I heard of the website via a friend who had bought some great chairs. I liked the modern take on classic design, and when I spotted this solid ash wardrobe, very plain except for a little French-style curve along the bottom edge, I really liked it. I held on for about six months, thinking it over, before deciding to go ahead. 
It only took a week for the wardrobe to arrive in two ENORMOUS boxes which the helpful delivery men insisted on carrying upstairs for us. Over a weekend, my husband, son and I assembled the wardrobe. I won't say it was easy: it wasn't. But luckily Perry is much better at this kind of thing than I am and he persevered. Apart from two screws which sheared off during the assembly, and a few holes which were not drilled out properly, things came together pretty smoothly.

The bliss of re-homing my clothes and being able to see what I've got! I had a huge clear our, took one lot to a car boot sale, put some on ebay and others went to the charity shop. It gave me chance to sort out the rest of the bedroom too. This is my  little chair, which was a present from Perry for my birthday. We found it at a boot sale for £10 (he spotted it), and I had the seat rewoven.

I love the heart shaped back and the delicate legs. 
This last weekend, my cupboard and pine chest got a coat of Autentico chalk paint in Gris. 

I've de-cluttered a lot  but I have kept my little mannequin and shabby roses mirror...and I've been very busy with my patchwork quilt too. In fact, I have become a bit obsessed with it. Here is how it is looking:

That piece is all sewn together. I can't use the machine so it's taking forever to stitch it by hand. I've been carrying it with me everywhere. I've even contemplated whipping up a sneaky square while sitting at my desk waiting for phone calls for work. I've stabbed my thumb and finger more times than I can count, and I seem incapable of using a thimble to protect myself. But I do love it :) Even if it is a bit uneven in places.

What do you reckon? I think I've done about a third of it now. I'm sure you'll be seeing it again...

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Autumn glories

It's supposed to be the last day of Indian summer weather, so instead of heading off to an exercise class this morning, I decided to exercise in the 'green gym' outdoors! I put on my boots and had the most beautiful walk around my village. The hedgerows are full of fruits, nuts and turning leaves. Fortunately the lanes I chose to walk along were empty of people, or they may well have wondered what on earth I was doing making collages on the footpath! 

Heart-shaped leaves. Sloes with dew on their skins, acorns and the last blackberries.

I filled my camera bag with hedgerow finds, not sure what I am going to do with them yet!

Problems find solutions and ideas come along when I am walking. I should remember that more often.

Tempting detours....but I had to get back.

Heading into the village, I saw these piled up on one of the allotments...

A true sign that autumn has settled in....

Sunday 6 October 2013


Well, that was a beast of a work week, and I am sorry I haven't popped in here before now. A weekend of domestic pottering, sorting and rearranging has set me back on course. I had a plum invasion to deal with: our tree is only really half a tree, the other part is dead, but for some reason what started as a little sprout of leaves and white blossom has turned into kilos and kilos of bluey purple plums. 

They are so ripe now that they are cracking and leaking beads of golden coloured juice, so I had to pick them today.

There are bowls and bowls full on the kitchen table. We've had plum crumble for dinner, and there's plum compote in the fridge. There may be plum jam soon, too. It's the apple situation all over again! My son has just announced that he 'doesn't really like plums that much,' but at least the guinea pig does (although she can only have one a day). It looks very much like the walnuts will be raining down on us soon, too. So it is indeed a season of mellow fruitfulness where we are.

I found a sweet old apron to use in my patchwork quilt. It is a bit stained and holey, so I don't feel guilty about chopping it up. There is fresh impetus to crack on with the quilt now, because I'm busy rearranging our bedroom and I'd love to put the finished item on our bed. The large brown box that arrived last week was a new wardrobe, and much sorting out and recycling of clothes has been taking place, the chaos seems to have permeated every single room.
When I have managed to flake out in a chair, I've been reading a beautiful book. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier is all about quilts and Quakers in 19th century USA. It's a gentle read, but an extremely  thought provoking story and I'd highly recommend it. 
Hopefully, I will be a more frequent visitor to my blog over the coming week. Hope you all had a lovely weekend.
PS Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's apple and almond pudding is currently winning in the favourite apple recipe stakes....