A stocking to raise a smile…..

pure wool fabric Christmas stockings

Just a very short little post….I’ve picked a name out for a personalized stocking….JanieB…..Janey, I’ll be getting in touch regarding a stocking for your dad….and as it’s nice to share out a little kindness especialy with all the horribleness going on in the world I’ll also be sending out stockings to Lumpywells and Sallysimonsartycrafty too…..ladies, can you both contact me via hello@erickaeckles with your addresses.

 

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Christmas stockings and a girl called Joyce……

weeny stocking for weeny sized bears

When me and my sisters were growing up we had the excellent good fortune to know a lovely lady called Mrs Ellis….she’d turn up on her bike with the front basket so laden up with all sorts of vegetables and flowers from her garden, apples from where she’d go apple picking, mushrooms from the meadows…a glut of asparagus in the Spring….she was always cheerful and had a smile, you really couldn’t feel miserable or downhearted in her company.  As I got I older I moved away from the Suffolk village I grew up in and came to live in Norfolk but I’d often go see her and her husband, as soon as I walked down their path the back door would open and there they would stand, waving and beaming to see me, their kitchen was the cosiest place in the world….it was just like having an extra set of grandparents and really even I don’t have the words to express how wholly fond of them I was…

Sadly a few years ago,that hazy mist of dementia took hold of her and her mind become all muddled so she had to go into a home and before long she became Joyce, the girl she’d once been and very quickly quite clear forgot her adult life….she’d always been so delighted and impressed at seeing things I’d been sewing or crocheting and over the years I hand made many presents for her and her husband, it was always so lovely to go visit them and see my makes, some very old and sun faded in their kitchen or other rooms of their home….the pleasure of seeing handmade never left her though and even on days when she was very confused a lavender heart I made her was straight away stroked against her face, stitches inspected and lavender smelt…..

hand embroidered Christmas stockings

So the other year while she was in the care home I embroidered a stocking for one of my oldest friends, even though she no longer could remember my name she still had a smile for me when I’d go visit and would reach up and touch my cheek….

I filled the stocking with all the things I thought she might have had when she was little, some brightly foil wrapped sweets, a few chocolate coins, a couple of satsumas,tiny puzzle games….. she was entranced, she slowly traced the letters I’d embroidered with her fingertips and said “that’s my name” …and even though it broke my heart to see this incredible and so inspiring, capable woman all befuddled she made me smile at being happy and together we laughed trying to do the puzzle games……

joyce 004

If you are a long time reader of my blog then you know my dear friend passed away earlier this year and with thoughts of her I’d like to offer someone the chance of a personalised stocking…if you know someone who has been affected with dementia or any ill health, someone who needs a little cheering up then please just leave a comment below and I’ll do a draw on Friday evening around 8 pm.  Due to me leaving this rather a bit late I don’t think the stocking will reach you in time if you live overseas so this is for UK residents only.

ETA This giveaway is now finished……

A most marvellous year with a somewhat crappy ending….

homemade mincepies

I hope you all had lovely Christmases, most festive Yuletides, Winter celebrations warm and merry, in the company of loved ones be they family,friends or furry and fluffy ones (and by that I mean animals rather than anyone particularly beardy)…

I can’t quite believe it’s the end of another year, this year more than any other I shake my head and wonder where on earth the time has gone….and I think that is one of the really nice things about keeping a blog, you have the chance to look back, not just skimming over notes,scribbles  or entries in a written diary (mine always end up looking like they’ve been written by Prince Charles with his spidery old scrawl), but you also have the picture prompts and straight away I’m remembering how cold we were that day going for a walk, the smell of the horses in the field, the taste of that elderflower cordial….

I always enjoy looking back at what I’ve been up to, not in a maudlin old way but remembering the high points, the happy times, the taste of jam made from hedgerow fruits and finding the kitchen invaded by the kittens from next door…….

So I’ve put the kettle on, made a pot of tea and am happily looking back and remembering the past 12 months……

January was all cold mornings, we had some pretty heavy frosts where the broccoli and herbs looked quite other worldy covered with a delicate silvery frost, and the marshes down the road flooded which was quite exciting when we went out for our Boxing Day walk…..I was determined to sort out the sides of my granny’s paperweight crochet blanket and made umpteen half hexagons to fit in the gaps on the top and bottom, actually I got right carried away making them and had enough to fill all the sides for a scarf I’d also been working on….another walk saw three graceful swans which were making no end of row as they were eating and snuffling about in the river, then bottoms tipped up, one, two then all three at once…

I got into my head to make a couple of cushions using the same crochet pattern and made two fronts….a year later they’re still waiting to be finished so that’s somethng on the New Year’s to do list….I also had a good tidy up in my work room and found some old floral embroidery testers I’d made a couple of years back.

I spent some Christmas money and bought Felicity Ford’s excellent Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook which is a wonderful and inspirational resource, it’s really to help you plan and design stranded colourwork but I found it a great read for patchwork planning too…

The first part of Februarysaw me still tidying up my work room, it never seems to take long to get all pickly and this time tidying I tried to make sure all the tins and boxes were opened to see what treasures were hidden away…and I found more embroidered samplers, some inspired more by beautiful fairisle jumpsers and tank tops than traditional embroidery samplers….the weather was still cold, we had some proper heavy frosts and the marshes seemed constantly half hidden under a low laying mist…baking cakes for Sunday afternoon tea and pack up is always part of my routine of a weekend, and never more so than in the Winter where a fat slice of cup seems much more appreciated with a cup of tea.

I bought a huge bundle of beautiful coloured tapestry wool, the little skeins were 10 pence each and the happiness a huge pile of them turned out on my worktable gives me is priceless., and some new to me vintage sewing needles, these what I prefer to use when I’m hand sewing, they seem to bend less and the points keep sharper……I also un-ravelled a whole load of crochet squares, I’d trimmed them with white originally but I decided I’d rather a blanket to match my granny square crochet scarf….

My boyfriend’s birthday is in February and one of the presents I made him was a tweed cycling hat, the pattern is by The Little Package company and both styles of hat are so nice to make….

For me the most exciting part of February was being asked to design a pair of baby quilts for one of my friends….lovely Darren who has The Little  Red Roaster (Norwich’s best coffee shop) is having twins and he wanted two quilts made for the new arrivals….

 

At the start of March new neighbours moved in next door and within a few days we met their two little cats, Bob and Izzy soon became regular visitors in our garden and although at first Bernard was a bit wary of them, he soon became great chums with Bob…most mornings start with a nose rub greeting, quick bottom sniff then Bernard and Bob wash each other….Izzy gets the odd look in.

The weather is getting nicer, blossoms and catkins seem to be out earlier that usual, and on days when it’s not too cold we head up to Little Tinkers, a small horse and donkey sanctuary which is just up the road, we tend to go the long route which is over the marshes so we’re generally quite out of puff and rather muddy when we get there.  I love the donkey’s and would one day dearly love one of mine own, but for now I’m happy to cuddle this gorgeous one, so friendly and loved being scritched behind the ears.

I found an old copy of Cold Comfort Farm in a local charity shop, it’s been on my must read lists for the longest time…..it’s so funny and very good reading.

Bread gets baked a couple of times a week and I use a natural starter that my friend Daisy gave me, it makes for a good, robust loaf which isn’t heavy and which smells so nice and homey.  I even used the natural starter to make hot cross buns which came out perfectly….the kitchen always smells wonderful on baking day.

Most of the month has been spent working on the quilts, designing the patchwork tops and choosing fabrics…sometimes having free rein is a bit overwhelming so Auntie Ally said Kate (Mrs Darren) liked stars…after that the designing was much easier.  To help me with the patchwork I painted up a series of patterened papers so I was able to make little paper patchworks…..playing really with moving the papers around, but I was able to see the designs much clearer than with just plain coloured shapes.

Spring has most definitely sprung, everywhere in the garden there are bursts and pops of bright colours….the cherry tree is a riot of gaudy pink, the raised beds are edged in soft blue smudges of forget-me-nots and cats eye speedwell….golden dandelions grow up alongside alpine strawberries through the cracks on the the patio paving and garden path….sitting out on the back door step often seems the nicest place to be.

Early morning sunshine is streaming in through my work room window and I pin up some patchwork as I prefer the softer, muted light this gives…I also like the shadows that some crocheted garlands cast.  Work on the quilts is progressing nicely, all the patchwork piecing and quilting is sewn by hand, so these were never going to be weekend makes…..holding the quilted tops up in the sunlight and the pieced fronts show through, all ghostly and reminding me of stained glass.

The bread proves and rises outside now, covered with a tea towel and placed in a warm spot, a few loaves get the odd poke from a curious paw but then cats are curious…..Izzy likes to hide up under our sprouting broccoli, she runs and sits there as soon as I open the back door, some days she lets me tickle her, stroke her face and ears, other days she’s back over the fence in a flash or peeps at me from around flower pots and watering cans.

One of my favourite walks each year is up the road to our local university, the woods that edge it’s grounds are a fair treat for the eye when the bluebells are in flower…the air becomes heavy and fragrant, and the scent of the bluebells soon has me all heavy eyes and sleepy…..I never fail to gasp as we turn the corner and our eyes are just flooded, overwhelmed with the most intense blue…….truly breath taking.

The forget-me-nots fill every spare bit of ground in the garden, huge swaithes of blue cover path and step edges.  Occaisonally a cat darts out from under it’s floral bower, disturbing any bees that may be taking their breakfast.  Flowers in the garden inspire me to embroider  lavender bags, made from an old linen shirt from Anne that I’ve tea dyed and weathered.

The quilts are finished, as the binding is carefully stitched into place, I say my goodbyes, wish good things and so much happiness for the twins…and I can’t help but wonder about how these quilts will journey, become snuggle blankets and sleeping comforts, toy beds for their favourite dolls, maybe be taken away to university, and one day get tucked around their own sleeping babes…….I’m a daft old thing and get very sentimental about my quilts.

I finally find some skinny coat hangers in a “tat” box at a charity shop so I can make dottie angels happy hanger tutorial….it’s nice for my fingers to work now with yarn and a hook rather than a needle and thread…..

Bernard is enjoyng the sunshine and warmer weather, he tends to nap upstairs, snuggling then stretching out on the quilt and blanket we have on our bed…..often you can hear him snoring while he sleeps, from time to tie his paws twitch….what do you dream of little trumpster.

Sadly this month I lost one of my oldest friends, my dear Rupert who was in his eighties and who I’ve known for some thirty odd years…him and his wife have been like grand-parents to me and my sisters and he had the best sense of humour of anyone I’ve ever met….their kitchen all pipe smoke and warm, a place of comfort with the kettle on for tea and a plate full of biscuits produced before your coat is barely off……

June sees the first of the hedgerow harvesting, baskets filled to the brim with billowy white clouds of elderflower blossom to make the sweetest cordial…even Bernard is half intoxicated by the sweet scent (picked while the blossom is all powdery and pollen rich, and before it begins to smell like tom cat pee)…the cordial it makes is so refreshing, and the bottles I make don’t last us 5 minutes.

The sourdough bread swells and grows enormous in the Summer, often looking more like neolithic fertility figurines than a loaf of bread….

The tiny wild strawberries in the garden are growing up everywhere, tiny berries which seem to taste different from plant to plant are scattered over yoghurts or are tumbled over puddings in the evening.

A plate of sausage rolls are made for my pastry fiend with tiny little leaves on top…

The meadows and pastures over the marsh are so abundant and full with flowers, and the colours seem to change from week to week…..one morning the fields are all golden with marsh buttercups and yellow rattle, a few days later a fine spread of ragged robin and rose bay willow herb….the wild flowers I’m seeing continue to inspire me with my botanical embroideries, generally I use vintage silks sourced from a local antique shop which sells all sorts of truck…most days see me head out for a slow amble over the marshes which are now sucha feast for the senses, the colours are glorious, the smell of the blossom is lovely and the sound of bird song and buzzing bees very soft and lulling …..

I also become somewhat obsessed with paper piecing hexagons…no piece of scrap fabric is safe and some thousand odd of tiny fabric wrapped papers are made and are sewn together with a series of small stitches… numerous cushions begin to appear on the sofa.

July was hot, a proper scorcher….. by mid-morning I felt all drowsy and and slow, cold drinks and sitting somewhere shady with Bernard seemed to fill my days.

The chives in the garden all flowered at once, huge purple pompoms of blossom which I used to flavour sandwiches or sprinkle on top of goats cheese pizzas.

Just down the road there are huge marchmallow plants, each year they get taller and talle and this year they were taller than me, huge blossoms of the softest lavender.

I bought a bag of the most brilliant blue threads, shiny silks that sew through linen like butter.

Last month I made hexagons, this month I can’t stop making ice-creams, slowly stiring egg rich custards and mixing in cherries from the wild trees just down the lane, or gooseberries from Jan’s allotment…..I made a lovely raspberry sorbet with last years berries I found lurking in the back of the freezer and even a small handful of the wild strawberries make an ice-cream so good I close my eyes and remember Summers spent down at the beach in Southwold.

We bought some little panibois “tins” to bake smaller loaves of bread in….oh my goodness, these are so nice to use and I felt all “artisan” and proper bakery when I opened the oven door and saw such pretty loaves baking in them.

Everything in the garden is green and growing, the beans almost grow while you watch them, and the lettuces are coming up as fast as I can eat them.

August too was hot and humid, nights were spent feeling all frazzled under a sheet and hoping that Bernard wouldn’t jump and cuddle leaving me feeling all sticky and sweaty when I woke in the mornings…..

The headgerows are fair heaving already with ripening harvests, most saunters out see me return with a basket filled with something to cook with….mirabelle plums and blackberries are picked and slowly covered with sugar and vodka to make warming Winter tipples…..

This was also the year I tried my hand at pickling walnuts …..I picked the walnuts too late so they weren’t a great success but I’ll have another go in 2016…..the Autumn Bliss raspberries in the garden are coming on a treat, already they are swollen and deep red, delicious picked all warm and popped straight into my mouth.

August also saw the start of my dress making obsession…I think I made about 7 dresses in around 3 maybe 4 weeks, I used the dottie angel pattern by Simplicity…..I tinkered a bit with the pattern so it fit me better, I guess I’m a bit of an odd shape as I have quite wide shoulders and a broad back but I’m a bit hollowed chested and the original pattern wasn’t doing me any favours…however post tinker and I’m very happy and every time I wear one of these dresses it gets a compliment.  Where possible I’ve tried to use vintage threads and notions when I’ve made the dresses (my darling boy bought me some vintage dressmaking tools for Christmas 2014 so I got to use those while drafting the pattern) and two dresses have been made from silky feeling sixties prints.

I also was nominated in August for a Liebster award, this was my first blog award and I really was quite chuffed….Zeens and Roger who nominated me probably didn’t expect quite the lengthy old answers that I gave but while writing them I unknowingly planted a seed that would soon come to fruition……

It seemed the sunshine was never going to end, September had some really glorious days, and often I’d start the day with a cup of tea sitting on the back door step with Bernard and Bob from next door keeping me company.

The little crab apple trees just up the road seemed their fullest ever, and I made several trips with my shopping basket in hand to pick the beautiful coral and salmon coloured fruits….where as last year there was such a bounty here of blackberries I wasin danger of turning into one myself, this year hasn’t been no where near as good, but the silver lining has meant I’ve looked elsewhere for fruits to make jam…..the hedgerows round abouts where i live are so laden with wild fruits, rosehips, and haws, rowans, elder berries and wildling apples and crabby ones……all delicious in jams and jellies and syryps.

One of the first jellies I’ve made was an apple one flavoured with vinegar and herbs from the garden…this was used to make the nicest vegetarian gravies I’ve ever tasted…..the jellies using just hedgerow fruit are very citrussy and are ideal as breakfast preserves.

I finally finished two projects which had taken a little while to complete….first up a knititng bag made form no end of hand pieced hexagons….it’s nice and roomy and has pockets inside…..second was a grannnies paperweight crochet scarf which I’ve been working on for ,oh I don’t know how many years…a good few at any rate…..it reminds me of richly embroidered velvet coat collars by Paul Poiret and I love it…..I spent so much of this month secretly wishing for the weather to turn so I could start wearing it.

 

Oh October….you are my most favourite month…partly because my birthday is in October (yep, I’m that shallow) but even when it’s all wet wild and windy I love the changes this month brings…..the man with the roast nuts barrow sets up stall on London Street, the smell wafts all the way down to Jarrolds where you turn the corner and know Autumni s well and truly here…..

More jellies were made, this time using some foraged japonica quinces which I left in a bowl in the parlour to ripen up…opening the door each morning and the sherbety aroma was so uplifting and smile inducing…..I also made some soothing syrups as I always end up with a crocky old throat come Christmas….some of the foraged finds bought home possibly the teeniest weeniest little old snail I think I’ve ever seen…I know he’s just going to eat all our veg but I didn’t have the heart to squish him…but instead allowed him to “run” or slide free behind the compost bin.

Izzy from next door had babies in the Summer and her four kittens have been running amok in the garden…carefully planted seedlings have been upturned, chewed, covered with earth while the kittens themselves have been making most merry…poor old Bernard hasn’t known what to make of them, and often comes running down the path as the tiny tots are in full pursuit.

A little more tinkering with the dottie frock pattern, this time splitting the bodice from the skirt and inserting side pockets…. I’m so happy with this pattern and am finding a pocket to be perfect for my hankies.

The little seed planted back in August began to grow, and I picked up my knitting needles…I’ve been able to knit for a few years but only simple scarves, and dishclothes…nothing more fancy than that….but I kept thinking about wishing I could knit better and decided I didn’t need a fairy godmother ot wave a magic wand.  This was something I could do myself….so I began to practise, small samples/swatches with stitches chosen from an old Harmony guide…suddenly I was knitting, slipping stitches, passing them over, knitting two together…I even dabbled with cables…..and then I fell in love, completely hook line and sinker…I saw this gorgeous gorgeous shawl on Instagram and wanted it so bad…I was on the verge of asking a friend to knit it for me then thought no, I would do it myself……mistakes have been made, stitches un-knitted, full rows un-ravelled but oh how proud I have felt, watching the stitches slowly grow……thank you so much Zeens and Roger and Buttercup and Bee for those original Liebster questions.

Oh, and I got nominated for another blog award, this time by Sharon over at Creativity and Family.

 

November is suddenly upon me and all I can think of is my knitting….at the same time I find out about Wovember and a British Breed KAL over on Ravelry by Louise of Knit British … I’m setting my alarm earlier and earlier to enjoy my quiet time knitting on the sofa with Bernard all snuggled up next to me, often with his head on the wool. I’ve become a wool convert and love the warm scent of my sheepy Shetland wool.

I finished the shawl and when I attempt to fling it around my shoulders half near strangle myself to death…..I re-check the pattern and realize my gauge or tension is way off so if I want to wear the shawl without doing myself a permanent mischief I’ll need to unknit it and start again ……oddly this doesn’t make me sob my heart out, but instead I know I can do it…the feeling of knowing I can do it is just wonderful.

Then it’s a mad flourry as the Christmas fairs are now starting, work days start while the lark is still sleeping and commssions for stockings are posted off…..I start to make a toy for on eof my little nieces birthdays but realize it won’t be ready so will have to be a Chrtstmas gift instead…..

Just down the road there is a beautiful rowan tree with pale pink berries, even when I’m super stressed and have 101 things to do, stopping and looking at it never fails to make me smile and feel a little calmer.

And so the year is nearly over……December started with two busy craft fairs and then a series of commissions, family came to visit, a cat toy needed to be made (complete with teeny dottie angle frock and a green cardigan)and slowly burning the candle both ends began to take it’s toll…a prickly throat soon became a nasty cold and laryngitis but then worse of all our beloved Bernard (the trumpiest and sleepiest cat ever) had a nasty lump come up under his paw……an overnight stay at the vets and an operation has meant it’s all been a very fraught here.  Everyone’s kind comments when I wrote about him being ill has meant so much to me….the kindness of strangers and internet friends never fails to amaze.

Finding time to knit has been my escape from all the worry and fears*….the shawl has been un-ravelled, I did that Christmas Day afternoon, and it’s slowly being re-knitted on rather larger needles….(plenty of swatching for the correct tension was done before hand) the wool smells so sheepy and comforting, and where as in the past Bernard has pinched yarn or tapesty wool, he’s been very respectful of my shawl wool…I think he’s enjoying the scent as much as me and will happily rest the tip of his nose against the ball of wool….I’ve also started making plans for a second shawl, thinking about how I can change the cloverleaf pattern so I don’t have two shawls quite the same….

So I’m wishing you all a very peaceful 2016, with lots of good times and laughter and health and happiness….

*We got the results of the biopsy late Christmas Eve, and I’m afraid to say it wasn’t good news, the lump they removed proved positive and the cancer is the sort that will return…We have to go back to the vets next Thursday to talk over the options on future treatments so for now he’s being spoilt rotten like you wouldn’t believe.

Christmas colds, soothing syrups and a knitty kitty….

hedgerow syrups for winter throats

Before I can even write anything I need to cough and blow my nose….and in a raspy old croak whisper that I’ve got a cold…my nose (or dose) is all stuffy, my ears are popping and I feel like a right cotton headed noodle head……this happens every year, my good intentions for being all organized seems to go out of the window and November and the start of December is an endless cycle of very early morning starts and late night sewing trying to get everything finished in time for fairs and commissions…..and inevitably it gets to the point where my body says “enough” and everything seems to just shut down….stupidly I ignored the warnings last weekend when my throat began feeling very sore and scratchy, this is always the first sign for me that I’m getting sickly….I guess I was so focused on getting things ready for my boyfriends parents visiting (gifts to make, wrap…biscuits and puddings to bake) and with Bernard being ill too that I just carried on regardless…..til Friday afternoon…..I was on my way to pick up the boy from the vets (a quick check up and he’s doing all nicely) when I just felt all faint and my energy leave me.

crocheted cosy

So for the past day or so I’ve been sipping fruit syrups that I made in the Autumn from foraging and clambering about in hedgerows looking like Catweazel…the syrups arel lovely stirred into a cup of hot water, and drinking soothing honey and lemon teas and have been getting through no-end of tissues as my nose won’t stop running ….most annoyingly, and you’ll know this if you are a regular reader or have ever met me, I am a chatter, mostly it’s just piffle and I can happily waffle on for ages….but for now I’m only able to manage a croaky old rasp…a bit like a dry leafed rustle…gradually it rises to an almost inaudible squeek (the neighbourhood dogs are no doubt running about wondering what the noise is) then dissappears.

 

Luckily almost everything is done….I’ve one last commission, though it’s a big one…two supersized stockings for Peggy and Pearl (the little poppets I made the star quilts for back at the start of the year)…

paws for a kitty toy

At the moment I’m knitting a wee cardigan for “licky paws”…I’m using a lovely bright green colour but the yarn itself is acrylic as I couldn’t see any pure wool in my wool basket (however is often the way, once I started I then remembered a nice soft apple green I have from Jamiesons of Shetland but I figure I can knit up another cardigan for her over the holidays)……the yarn is rather squeeky and I miss the soft shuffly corduroy sound of knitting with wool.

I’ll try and take pictures once everything is ready, the light here isn’t great and I’m really just trying to get this all finishied to be posted tomorrow.

I’ve also got a little dress to sew up for licky paws to wear, I’ve drawn up a teeny version of the dottie angel dress so I’ll make that in the same tiny green floral print as one I made in my size (Eliza’s favourite colour is green so figured that would be the best choice for kitty clothing)….so for now I’m on the sofa, sipping fruit teas and knitting as fast as I can while watching old black and white films and soundign like a right old sick note.

 

Someone’s feeling perkier and a give-away winner…..

what what what

First of all can I say a huge thank you to everyone who has left a “get well soon Bernard” comment, your kind words and concern really has meant so much to me.  He’s doing nicely and is currently all stretched out napping on the carpet.  Bernard isn’t a fancy breed but he’s priceless to us and when he gets poorly (luckily it doesn’t happen often) it makes me so distraught I can barely tell if I’m coming or going.

Anyway, as a thank you I’ve decided to give away an extra stocking, all the names of everyone who commented on the “poorly pawed poppet” post got popped into a stocking and the name drawn out was……..(if the drum roll was being done by Bernard it would definitely sound all trumpety trump trump)…..Buttercup and Bee.  I’ve emailed you to ask if you’d be so kind as to send me across yur detials then I’ll endeavour to post out one of my little stockings to you tomorrow.

weeny blue stocking with red pom pom trim

All the names of people who entered the Christmas stocking give-away were then put into said stocking…given a right good shuffle and shake and the name drawn out was…….Sue Grubb.  So congratulations to Sue and I’ve emailed you as well.

And as it’s the season of good will and showing how much we appreciate people, I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Sharon over at Creativity and Family.   Before I blogged I don’t think I ever really thought about the amount of time that people spend writing a post, taking and editing photos, thinking about topics to write about or creating tutorials etc etc. Sometimes I’d leave a comment but for the greater part of the time I didn’t, mostly I guess I felt a bit shy…..Now that I have my own blog, I really do love reading when people comment, likes are lovely but a comment feels a bit more special.  I realy do appreciate the time someone has taken just to take a few minutes out to let me know what they think about what I’ve written or shared.

For nearly the past year Sharon has been a regular commentator on my blog, her words are always kind and thoughtful and have meant a lot to me…so I’m also going to be sending a stocking to her as a special thank you.

Thank you to everyone who entered the give away and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to send one out to all of you.  If you would still like the chance to own one of the little stockings and have it arrive in time for Christmas then the last posting date from my Folksy shop is on Monday so now would be the ideal time to order one.

 

 

A wee Christmas stocking give-away….

weeny blue stocking with red pom pom trim

I’m trying to grab 5 minutes to catch up with a list of chores and half remembered need to dos before Christmas is upon us…the “invalid” is full of beans, objecting rather loudly at having to use indoor facilities and I’ve even been down the road and bought a new type of kitty litter as he didn’t care for the wood variety that we’d  bought and had by us…don’t think he he’s any more impressed with the new one but he’s not allowed out til he’s seen the vet again on Friday.  However he seems full of beans and is right perky, I think he’s downstairs at the mo entertaining my boyfriend’s mum and dad.

One of the things I’d intended to post last week was details of a Christmas give-away so it’s a few days later than I’d intended but with craft fairs and poorly pawed poppets the last some days have all been a bit of a blur.fingers crossed could be with you at the start of next week.

detail of blue snowflake embroidery

So this little stocking is looking for a new home, one where it’ll be filled to the brim with presents and have a fat and lumpy tummy.

It’s all embroidered by hand using vintage tapestry wool and inside it’s lined with a pretty striped fabric.  (sadly the bears don’t come with the stocking but maybe you’ll be able to find one of your own to squidge in on top of the other things you care to fill it with.)

If you’d like the chance to win it then just leave me a wee comment and you’ll be entered….

The draw will be held first thing Friday morning (December 18th) and will be posted off later that day so fingers crossed it should be with you before the big day itself.  I’m only able to post to UK addresses but you can still enter if you live overseas and would like it sent to someone in the UK (hope that makes sense…)

UPDATE…..Bernard has to go to the vets now Friday morning so the giveaway will run to late Friday afternoon with the draw taking place about 5 o’clock (or 1700 hours)  xx

UPDATE number two….this giveaway is now closed.

Stockings and tit mice and Conductor 71….

weeny red stocking with red stars

I’m just finishing off a few last minute stockings for Clutter City tomorrow, I find it easier to sew the linings in by hand and tend to wait til there’s half a dozen or so stockings to sew in one one session, these all get piled into a basket then I sit and watch a Christmas movie or a black and white film, all the while trying not to drop pins on the carpet…..and budging Bernard away from what I’m ding….

green weeny sized stocking with blue ribbon

I’m really pleased with how these little stockings have turned out, especially the ones where I get to incorporate the original blanket stitching around the top of the stockings….sometimes keeping it simple works best and while I’m all for a little bit of pom pom trim, there’s something about the pared down stockings that makes me so happy when I see a pile of them all piled up around me.

I needed to go into town yesterday and it was so busy, I just felt so overwhelmed with the noise, people, gaudiness and buy buy buy what was going on….I didn’t need to buy much, but it still took me all day.  I was just happy to finally get the key in the door and get indoors, kettle on, squeeze and cuddle with Bernard, and then some quiet time knitting on the sofa before getting tea ready.

purple bird hot water bottle cosy

Along with finishing up the stockings I’ve also finished some more hot water bottles, like the stockings there’s a selection in my Folksy shop.  I don’t often make purple things but I had some dyed blanket left over from when I used to make fragrant bunnies (the bunnies were purple with lavender embroidery on their tummies and then they were filled with lavender and linseed)…..I’ve actually found some woolly templates for what looked like the start of my own little bunny warren that I’d all cut out and began embroidering but hadn’t finished sewing up so fingers crossed I’ll have them all ready for the start of the new year. (both the lavender and rose smell so nice and they look pretty tucked into drawers or under your pillow).

 

green hot water bottle cosie with brown bird applique

This was probably my favorite of the latest batch of cosies, I really liked the brown and green together and if it doesn’t sell this weekend may very well find itself tucked beneath my bed covers Saturday night…..it makes me think of the little brown birds we get in our garden, the sparrows and dunnocks that aren’t are flashily coloured as the chaffinches or tits but which can still keep me entertained for hours as I sit and watch them hop about under the raspberries or on the feeders.

I had some laundry to put out this morning and kept hearing the squeekiest chirp noise, I looked up at the big sycamore tree which overlooks our garden and the branches were filled with a right banditry of tit-mice..then about half of them flittered over the fence and balanced themselves on the raspberry canes, bird feeders and apple trees…one brave little fellow perched on the washing line and chirped at me with all his might…I’d put plenty of food out this morning so I don’t think it was a request for more, perhaps compliments to the chef….these are my favourite bird and it’s always so lovely to see them in the garden as Long tailed tits are nearly always in groups of at least half a dozen…..their colouring is so gorgeous all chalky powder white with rose tints and grey and black flecks of fluff…I can’t help but think of the powdered mice from Beatrice Potter books when I see them…or Conductor 71 from A Matter of Life and Death……(while David Niven is all dapper and charm, it’s Marius Goring who I really adore…)

The Clutter City fair is on tomorrow (Saturday 12th December) from 11 til 4 at Norwich Arts Centre on St Benedicts Street.

As I mentioned the other day there’s 10% off if you tell me the magic word*

(*the fluffiest, sleepiest, trumpety trumpster in the whole wide world)

Little stockings, baking bread and a lavender loving furry assistant

weeny stocking for weeny sized bears

I’ve just updated my Folksy shop and have included some of the latest small size stockings I’ve been making up over the past few weeks…..these are made from beautiful old Witney wool blankets which really have seen better days…..they aren’t always in the best condition when I get them but a few spin rounds in the washing machine tends to brighten them up….sometimes the fabric begins to felt a little but when they’re a bit thread bare I tend to find that a good thing.

Along with the softness of the wool, I love the delicate colours, mostly I find cream ones, blue or green but every so often I’ll find a lovely bright colour like this pomegranate red one….it’s a gorgeous orangey red.  A few years ago me and Sasha went halfsies on a really red blanket at a car boot, it was the exact shade of a smashing lipstick I used to wear by Yardly, which made me feel like Kathleen Byron** whenever I wore it….

 

red stocking with background of blue stars

All the embroidery on the stockings is done by hand, and I use tapestry wool and threads that I source locally from antique markets and vintage shops, carboots and the like. It’s lovely to sew with and the older colours blend together so well.

Inside, the stockings are all fully lined with a rainbow striped cotton fabric (it started life as a duvet and I think the rainbow stripes look perfect for Christmas stockings)…..

When I set up my stall at fairs I take along a couple of small bears with me to pop in the tops to show what can fit in there, but little “one ear” stays at home, he’s too precious to lose and is a little bit wobbly, his joints are too loose to cope with the constant picking ups and cuddlings which the other  fellows will put up with quite happily (they’re a bit more robust)…..

 

small sized stocking with original blanket stitch edging

I’ve tried to keep these stockings pretty simple in tone, I’ve left off the pompom trimming from other years as I like the bared down look and think it suits a vintage aesthetic a little better….also it’s very hard to find trimming like that nowadays that isn’t new.

Where I’ve been able to I’ve cut the stockings out right on the edge of the blanket, so they get to keep the original blanket stitch edging and I think that makes for a nice little nod to where the fabric come from.

Apart from the ribbon which I wasn’t able to source second hand this year the stockings are all made from re-cycled/vintage fabrics.

apple honey and linseed sourdough loaf

If I’m not careful, sewing can take over everything else right now, if it’s not craft fairs then there are commissions and gifts for friends and family to make…my sewing pile is in serious danger of toppling over and it doesn’t seem to be shrinking…. however, I was determined to catch some quiet time last week  and bake some bread….a slight variation on my usual recipe as I only used a handful of linseed along with some grated apple and oats.  It didn’t last long so I guess it was approved of…even when I know I could walk down the road and buy bread there is something so rewarding in rolling up my sleeves and baking my own, to be honest the actual making doesn’t even take that long, a few minute of mixing ingredients and allowing them the time to rise and do their thing..and it’s only the  kneading that makes a little bit of a mess but mixing everything together and feeling the dough form beneath my fingers helps me totally relax and unwind…you can’t feel stressed or anxious kneading bread dough…instead I feel a wave of calmness envelope me and within seconds I’m quite content.

I’ve also been making more dark and sticky gingerbread…our home smells lovely and spicy right now…I don’t notice it so much when I’m actually here all day but if I have to go out to the post office or into town then I’m very aware of the soft spicy scent when I turn the key in the lock and step indoors.

My last fair for Christmas is this coming Saturday at Clutter City which is held down at Norwich Art’s Centre.  There’s a listing of some of the stalls who’ll be there over at the Clutter City facebook page…if anyone goes who reads my blog if you say the magic word* then you’ll get 10% of any purchase.

oh Bernard what big paws you have

*no prizes for guessing what it is…magic word is “Bernard”…..he’s been my little assistant today which explains why there’s lavender everywhere…I don’t know what he does but within minutes of a bag being opened he’s suddenly covered with it and inevitably it’s soon to be found all over the house.

 

**she was the nun in Black Narcissus who wears that incredible red lipstick and then has a fight with Deborah Kerr and she was also in A matter of Life and Death but she didn’t wear lipstick in that…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

a little stocking round up…..

hand embroidered Christmas stockings

I’m still busy putting finishing touches to pieces I’m making for tomorrow’s Green Party Christmas fair at Chantry Hall…..this is a last little round up of the Christmas stockings I’ve been embroidering over the past couple of weeks…..as I said yesterday these are probably my favourite thing to make.

I’ve tried to keep the embroidery and over all look of the stockings pretty simple as I wanted them to have that nice vintagey, nostalgia feel about them…..

pink Christmas stockings with original blanket stitch feature

Where some of my other stockings have a pom pom trim sewn around the top, I thought these really worked best left as they were, and apart from the velvet loop at the side, all the materials used to make them are either vintage or re-cycled/re-purposed…the main body of the socking is made from vintage blankets which has been embroidered with vintage tapestry and crewel wool, and inside I use brightly coloured fabrics which started life as bed linen or skirts and shirts to line the stockings.

pure wool fabric Christmas stockings

It’s surprising  what can be fitted in to the stockings, traditional gifts are always a good idea so chocolate coins and pepermint sticks, a couple of little oranges…small toys or puzzle books…..penny whistles and kazoos perhaps not the best option if you are going to be hearing them toot toot toot around the house in the early hours…..(when I take the photos I stuff the stockings with socks or balls of wool and I’m always amazed at how many I need to shove in to make them nice and plump looking.)

Christmas Dec 2nd 019

I’m a big believer in stockings for all, and certainly not just for children….I don’t think it matters how old you are, the antipation of a stocking all lumpy and bumpy is quite exciting and I love seeing the ones we fill for my boyfriends’ family all propped up waiting for them to take them home….(and in case Sharonn is wondering…Bernard is very good, he rarely knocks them over to inspect the contents….)

I like theming stockings for older friends and family, filling them with bits and pieces contected with someone’s hobby, a mix of little treats they might not ordinarily buy alongside cheaper pieces they’ll use all the time…..

This is one of the stockings I made the other year with a selection of haberdashery items….everything fitted in the stocking apart from the book with room to squeeze in some edible gifts too….we often have a tin or two of brightly wrapped chocolates on hand to use to fill out stockings or the advent calender if it’s been a two window day in the office.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I’ll be at The Green Party Christmas fair tomorrow (5th December) which is at Chantry Hall (just behind Wagamama’s Restautant) and the fair is on from 11 to 3 in the afternoon…. and if you can’t make that one I’ll be down at Norwich Art’s Centre the following week at The Clutter City Christmas Fair.