Woolly botanical embroideries, wee Christmas stockings and the cutest little bear with one ear……

its always easiest to tidy when you have an empty tin to chuck all the clutter into

It doesn’t seem five minutes ago that I was making lists of things I wanted to make this year for craft fairs and thinking I had plenty of time to make everything and then some..I’ve barely turned round and now find myself in the middle of a pile of sewing and am sorting out what to finish and what will have to be put to one side…I’m bewildered as to where the year has gone….my work table goes from absolute chaos with everything piled up around me, to what counts as order when a deadline is looming…..having an empty tin to hand helps, big things get put away but all the small pieces that I’m going to use again in five minutes can be swept up and for a minute or two it seems tidy (ish)…..loooking at my work table makes me laugh, even though I have umpteen needlecases I always revert back to using tatty old scraps of blanket fabric when I’m embroidering.


embroidering cats eye speedwell

At the moment I’m working on some little woolly botanicals, embroidering on pieces of vintage linen to make into glasses cases and brooches.  This Summer our garden was full of cat’s eye speedwell and it’s now creeping into some of my work…tiny blue petals with a fleck of white in the centre….

I’m not truly sure where this fabric is from, possibly it’s from my friend Sylvia, the orange is such a soft colour and it’s lovely to embroider on….the tweed is pure wool and is one of my favourite fabrics. Ideally there’d have been enough to make a nice nineteen thirties style waistcoat or a nice A-line skirt…perfect with a knitted tank top.

As well as using thumbnails and sketches I’ve made when I’m out walking, I also like referring to old wildflower books, their illustrations are often so clear and simple, they’re always a good source of inspiration.

embroidered goldenrod on linen

Along with the woolly botanicals I’ve also been embroidering on some soft linen, most of what I’m embroidering has been inspired by walks over the marshes and meadows that are behind where I live.  In the Summer the pastures were so full of flowers, in June one pasture was a mass of yellow and mustard, as all the golden blossomed flowers seemed to appear at once.

One of the most abundant growing plants has been goldenrod, there’s always lots of it about but this year was amazing…especially as so much of it was growing alongside the red sorrel, so it was all mustard and rust together….

The embroideries on linen are going to be project bags, something you can pop your knitting or crochet into to keep it safe from kitties and such like.


green Christmas stockings with tiny blue snowflakes

Along with the botanical embroidering I’ve been finishing off some more of the little stockings and putting them into my Folksy shop….these are probably my favourite item to make, I love seeing peoples faces at fairs when they see these…they really do light up and I’ve seen even the most sour-pussed old grouch beam when they see them, picking them up and often I get told how they either had one very similar when they were small, or had to have one of their dad’s old socks….eyes begin to twinkle and often I have to blow my nose after they leave…. (I’m just a daft old silly)….

As I’ve said before, we just have Bernard (I shouldn’t say “just” as he’s my treasure and I love him with all my heart) and don’t have little ones but when I make these I do get a bit broody…it’s hard not to as these are so cute and I imagine them getting filled with all sorts of tiny treats….but also they are so difficult for me to turn right side out, I’ve got very long fingers and there are times I wish Saski and Hania (the sister’s of Ivo who I made the quilt for) lived nearby so they could help me with the fiddly bits.

I like the wee green one on the left, I’ve left off the pom pom trimming as I wanted to make something really simple, but thought leaving the original blanket stitched edge makes for a nice little detail.

Little bear with Christmas Stocking

This little fellow hasn’t made an appearance lately, a tiny one eared treasure from Oxfam a few years ago….I love his little face and the fact he only has one ear means he once meant the world to somebody and now means it to me…..he often finds his way downstairs around now as I think he looks so Christmassy…perhaps he needs a new bow tie this year though as on closer inspection the one he’s wearing is terribly sun faded.

If you like the stockings and are local I’ll be at The Green Party Christmas Fair this Saturday (5th December ) and I’ll be popping one in to their Christmas raffle.

The fair is on between 11 and 3 and is at Chantry Hall in Norwich (if you’re not sure where that is, go up to Chapelfield Mall, and you’ll see  Wangamama’s Restaurant is on your right, walk round the back of there and Chantry Hall is front of you …..the regular walk way in from Theatre Street is having work done to it at the moment apparently)

My friend Ian will also be there and he sells produce on behalf of Zaytoun…their olive oil is really good and they also make a za’atar herb mix which is brilliant for winter casseroles or adding into dumplings.



The calming scent of gingerbread and finding pieces of wool felt stuck to my elbows…..


It’s all a bit chaotic here at the moment, those precious early first hours of the morning of the past month are no longer for knitting but instead have given way to embroidering and hand sewing (too early to use the sewing machine as I’d wake half the house) … in between trying to keep my Folksy shop stocked up and the weekly Christmas fairs about to start, I’m getting a bit fraught and frazzled, feeling I’ve not made enough but barely being able to carry what I have made with me when I do a test run….and my first fair (which is a two day affair) is only a week away.

sewing the snowman scarf

Tiny pieces of felt cut out and all ready to applique on the stockings and snippets of embroidery thread are trailed around the house, pinned pieces are put down in between making pots of tea only to wonder where the devil I’ve put them (the times I’ve checked my elbows to find the wool felt stuck to a cardigan sleeve)…when it all gets too much I head outside, the marshes are bit boggy so I have to keep to the path rather than go off over the meadows but it’s just enough to  blow the cobwebs away, get a breath of air before another sewing session…

When I’m sewing early in the morning I’m aware of every noise, every creak of the scissors or the clink of them being placed down on the table, the delicate clutter and scrape of pins moving about…even the sound of the thread being pulled through the thick wool blanket fabric, a low dragging sound which I never seem to notice in the day time….trying hard not to wake anyone else….

hania's stocking 009

In the middle of all this I decided to make some gingerbread and a couple of days later I can still smell a faint waft of spices and treacle in the kitchen….the gingerbread came out really well, very dark, sticky and so spicy scented (I use both fresh and dry ginger, plenty of cinnamon and a good dash of clove go in too….and rather than chop the fresh ginger I like to use a ginger grater which you can buy at health food shops or at an Asian foodstore.  There’s something about making it which calms me right down, just opening the cupboard doors and seeing those familiar tins of golden syrup and treacle…green,gold and red tins which I grew up seeing in our pantry and also when I’d go up the road to Nanny’s house, she’d also have them tucked away on a shelf. Tins of comfort….oh Tate and Lyle please never ever change them.

gingerbread man 003

(gingerbread man made by my friend Sasha)

The smell of melting butter, syrup, treacle and sugar, the soft warm aroma of spices from far far away (well to be fair I buy all mine from Gareth and Jane on Norwich Market but it’s lovely to imagine the hot and exotic lands they come from)….lining a baking tin, mixing in cream and eggs, flour….stiring and making wishes (I always make a wish with gingerbread)……then just letting it sit quietly in a warm oven where it slowly rises and fills the whole house with the smile inducing, “this is the smell of Winter” scent of spices and sugar…..

pinning branch

I’m very generous with the amount of spices I use, evoking proper old European spice cakes (rather than an insipid flavouring added in high street coffee shops) and then make a thick lemon juice icing to be spread on top (in my eyes gingerbread is medicinal, it doesn’t count as cake and the more spices and lemon juice in there , well the better it is for you.)…I also add a couple of tablespoons of dried rose petals which are ground really fine that I can dust them in like icing sugar….no one ever can tell they are in there but I’m aware when I don’t use them.

In my mind I associate gingerbread so much more with The Brothers Grimm or other European folk and fairy tales than Christmas time really, it’s the smell and scent of those stories…..I only make it in the Winter months (I can’t imagine eating it in the Summer…nope, just tried and screwed my face up with the very idea of…) and once I make the first sticky, spicy scented batch of cake then I feel like my Winter has begun, we might not always have snow, but I’ll always have a batch of dark, treacley gingerbread in a tin in the kitchen.

embroidered bird

So the first “spell” of Winter has been cast…the gingerbread is out of the oven and as the scent of spices and warm baking fills the house, so does the feeling of calm and happiness. The pace of the sewing slows, becomes a little less frantic, a little less fraught.



Christmas stockings, snowmen and a pensive faced bunny……….

Christmas stocking for Constance

In between embroidering and sewing like a whirling dervish all ready for the big craft fair at The Assembly House in a fortnight’s time, I’ve also been sewing this Christmas stocking for a little girl called Constance and it’s now about to go off on it’s way to her mum to tuck away somewhere safe til Christmas Eve…….

Cutting out the motifs and then arranging the pieces of wool felt to see where they look best takes me back to when me and my sisters used to play with fuzzy felt……once I’m happy the pieces are pinned into position and then hand sewn into place…..it’s a bit fiddly but anyone who reads my blog knows I’m happy to work to work small and so fiddlesome is like my middle name.

Christmas stocking with snowman applique

The snowman is probably my favourite motif, his cheeks are sewn into place, his scarf is crocheted and his features are embroidered with tiny french knots…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a real snowman in a top hat, perhaps I should try one out with a bobble hat like we used to squish on top of the ones our dad used to help me and my sisters make when we were all very small.

A stocking for Anne

I’ve mentioned my friend Anne before, she’s a wonderful knitter and has helped me out over many a knitting drama, and my eyes nearly popped out when she said “oh there are times when I have to un-ravel a few rows…” I could hardly believe it. She’s lots of fun and although I’ve only known her for about 5 years she’s fast became one of my dearest friends.

A few years back she drove me off out into the Norfolk wilderness so I could do a craft fair (I don’t drive and so have to rely on public transport or the kindness of friends) and happened to mention that she’d never had a Christmas stocking growing up so I made a quiet note to myself and that year made her a stocking of her very own…..her face when we gave it to her was a picture, and it wasn’t reallly filled with anything pricey…a handful of quality street, a miniature Bailey’s, a couple of satsuamas, walnuts in the toe, chocolate coins, a bar of nice soap, a couple of small things I’d sewn….she laughed so much and took it with her to her dad’s for Christmas day….each year I ask for it back and it gets filled pretty much the same way, which is part of what I like about filling a stocking, it’s supposed to be old favourites, traditons, and I think they work better when they’re filled with simple gifts.

The gorgeous bunny who has become one of my Christmas stocking props was made by my friend Sasha, I’ve got a house filled with these often pensive looking little creatures (largest is some 4ft tall and my boyfriend didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he came home and saw it)…..so this one really only comes out at Christmas….Sasha will be over at Holt on the 5th December at Glory Days where she’ll have a whole array of toys and bunting and cushions…then a couple of weeks later you’ll be able to find us both at the Christmas Clutter CIty on December 12th at Norwich Arts Centre.

a stocking for Chloe

And this stocking was part of a commission I had a couple of years ago from Chloe Owens (she creates the most incredible appliqued cushions and also has published two books about sewing)……there was a stocking for Chloe, one for her boyfriend and one for her cat Twiggy….which just goes to show that I’m really not the only one who thinks stockings aren’t just for children.

Looking at these pictures is really making me crave a mince pie…….

It’s beginning to feel a lot like…….

A stocking for Charlie

I’ve spent the past couple of days quietly playing Christmassy music while I update my Folksy shop with Christmas stockings….and while it’s still too early for Johnny Mathius to be playing, I’m happy to listen to a little Enya* and Kate Bush** to help me feel a bit more seasonal…..

One of my favourite things I’ve made over the past few years have been these Christmas stockings…originally I made wee ones for my sisters and mum, filling them with a variety of old style gifts, walnuts, a handful of quality street, chocolate coins, a tiny bottle of Baileys, satsumas, a couple of hand made presents squished in there too….but I also make these proper big ones which if you’re little you can almost wiggle right down to the bottom of.

Kornelias stocking

These are some commissions that I had last year, Charlie’s stocking went off to Ireland, and Kornelia’s went to Norway.

ivos finished stocking

This one was made as a gift for our friends Adam and Goska, Ivo was the latest addition to their family of poppets….(I’m waving a big hello to Saski and Hania at this point….I think Hania can eat more pink smarties than anyone else I’ve ever met)

All the embroidery on the stockings is sewn by hand using a selection of tapestry wools.  The applique is all stitched too (yep, even those pink cheeks are sewn not glued)…I only use pure wool felt, the colours are lovely and soft and the felt itself is much nicer to work with.

little pink stockings

These are probably my favourite ones….I really like the small size, I think they’re ideal for filling with little things to keep anyone who wakes up too early entertained while you go and get the kettle on….crayons, tiny colouring books, a couple of chocolates or a satsuama….and I’ve checked, they’re also a perfect fit for posh bottles of scent or those little boxes that are lined in velvet and which have something expensive and twinkly inside.

stockings for the boys 005

These stockings were made for my friend Debbie’s two nephews Kielan and Nate…..I like to incorporate the soft stripes at the top of the vintage blanket but then I try not to overwhelm with too much applique…even for me, sometimes less is more.

All the stockings are fully lined using either recycled or vintage fabrics….

When I have a big pile of these on my table, embroidery wools and scraps of wool felt around me, I feel a bit like an extra from Santa’s workroom (I’m sorely tempted to make myself a hat like the elves wear in Elf….)

Christmas Dec 2nd 019

I’ve also made them for friends who like vintage things…it’s not hard to put together a nice present that doesn’t cost the earth (literally and for your purse)……admittedly the book didn’t quite fit but everything else fitted in fine, along with a little bottle of “Christmas Spirit”, nuts and a satsuama.

The first of the Christmas fairs where you can find me is a two day weekend event at Norwich Assembly House on 28th and 29th of November, on the 5th December I’ll be at Chantry Hall in Norwich for the Green Party Christmas Fair, and on the 12th December I’ll be at Norwich Arts Centre for the Clutter City Fair (and my friend Sasha who makes the wonderful toys will also be there, she’ll also be at Glory Days in Holt on the 28th November with a selection of toys, bunting and cushions.)

cat napping

And a quick picture for my friend Celine…here is your darling Bernard…he was my little assistant yesterday though he seemed to spend most of the time just napping, gently snoring and thankfully no trumpety tunes from his bottom.

*Enya …And Winter Came

**Kate Bush…50 Words for Snow

Making stockings while the weather outside is awful……

selection of small stockings


Wretched rain and wild winds really are lashing up against the house this morning, I woke several times last night to the sound of the wind outside, and to find Bernard all snuggled up next to me snoring…….the last few days have been really cold, there’s a proper sharpness to the air so any chores outdoors are done quickly while being well wrapped up….the weather forecast for today is lots of rain, and very blustery gales……so while it’s all horrible outside, I’m all nice and warm inside, surrounded by colourful little Christmas stockings…….


little bear in a small blue stocking


The Christmas music is playing softly in the background and while it’s proper miserable weather wise, in my work room it feels nice and cosy, and very Christmassy with piles of stockings on most surfaces…..I tend to work on a few at a time, cutting out a couple of dozen at a time, then embroidering them in groups of 5 or 6, sewing the sides and linings by machine and then sewing any ribbons, trimmings and putting in the linings all by hand……..I’ve found this is the easiest way to work, it keeps the mess under control somewhat (once the stockings have been cut out, the blanket fabric can be re-folded and put back on fabric shelves out of the way and not having them piled up around me makes a big difference space wise) ….in theory the rest isn’t particularly mess making, though I always need to pull wool out of numerous boxes while looking for the right colour and so inevitably seem to make a bit of a pickle in the work room……

At the moment everything in the work room is nice and tidy, the boxes of tapestry wool and wool felts are stacked neatly against a wall…. I’m making a couple more of the little dog coats for my doggy pal Daisy (I’ve also got another friend called called Daisy but she is a human)….both are being made with Harris Tweed fabric, a gorgeous blend of sage and olive and mistletoe greens…..very Miss Marple.  One coat will be similar to the ones I made for Ruby but one is a more simple, everyday style…..Daisy is a very small little dog and I think the devil was in me* as I felt the over whelming need to try one of her toiles on Bernard….it was a purrfect fit much to his absolute horror…


small bears with stockings


I think these stockings are some of my favourites….I love the very soft pink and pale green, and the orangey red (almost a pomegranate red) is nice and I love seeing them all bulging with toys and gifts and wonder what the ones I’ve sold will be filled with……bright without needing to reach for sunglasses…….


little green stocking


I try to make each stocking as individual as I can, changing ribbon colour, trimmings, embroideries from stocking to stocking….these two were almost the same but I then embroidered the tiny background snowflakes in different colours (I use crewel wool for these as it’s much finer) so they aren’t quite identical……..

*when I was little and being naughty, the grown ups all said “oh the devil is in her” or “she’s got the very devil in her today”…and I find myself saying it now when Bernard is being a bit more mischievous than usual.


An assortment of small stockings……..

little bear and wee stocking assortment


I’ve made a few more small sized stockings (actually two sizes of small….one is small, the other is wee, really for the most tiny sized little hands to fit)… they proved very popular at Saturday’s Clutter City receiving lots of attention from grown ups as well as children….the soft colours of the vintage wool blanket fabric is perfect for these stockings….I have made them in brighter fabrics but I think they just look so “pick them up and cuddle them-able” in the soft shades……


little blue stocking


I’ve tried making a few little stockings without the pom pom trimming ….. these are all made using a selection of vintage and re-used fabrics, from the wool blankets, and old clothes and bed linens for the stockings and linings, to the tapestry and crewel wool used to embroider the snowflakes….the ribbon is from Sylvia’s stash of pretty trimmings…so nothing new and I like that….a proper vintagey stocking.


stocking assortment


You can see the size difference in the above picture, the wee ones really are teeny, measuring just over 8 inches high, but it’s surprising what can be stuffed into them, the trick is to keep it small….the other stockings are a little larger measuring 11 inches high…..I think these stockings look lovely when they are super stuffed with Christmassy treats, like little woolly cornucopia’s over flowing with Christmas gifts and good cheer……..

The beautiful Christmas bunny is one I bought a few years ago from my friend Sasha, if you’d like to buy your own creation from this talented toy-maker then Glory Days in Holt has a selection of her toys for sale.


little pink stockings


I particularly like these two pink stockings especially the one with the blue trimming, wish so much we had a house full of small children, I’d have dozens of these pinned up along the chimney-piece for the whole of December….I guess The Arpette is grateful we just have Bernard.

All four sizes of Christmas stocking are still available to purchase from my Folksy shop, and if you are about on Saturday and live in or near Norwich, I’ll be at the Green Party Christmas Fair which is being held in the St. Thomas’s church rooms on Earlham Road (if you are thirsty it is next to The Mitre pub)…one of my super size stockings will be in the raffle.

If you live overseas and wish to make a purchase then please contact me and I will let you know the shipping costs (there are different choices available) and I will create a Folksy listing exclusively for you.



A Julestrompe for Kornelia…..

Kornelias stocking


This Julestrompe (or Christmas stocking to you and me) was sent to Norway a couple of days ago, it’s gone to a little girl who is friends with my pal Hania.

The bunny in the stocking was made a few years ago by my friend Sasha, it’s definitely a Christmas bunny and so only makes an appearance this time of year….seriously I have so many toys and decorations made by Sasha we’re running out of space to sit and so some of my collection only comes out at Christmas…… but it’s great when we have small children round to visit as their eyes really pop when they see them all (though they do look a wee bit frightened when they see the cat that is 4 ft tall……last year our little friend Saski or it may have been Hania asked The Arpette “and where are your toys?”…he laughed and explained that I have enough for us both.

Each year I try to sneak home another toy or cushion and this year Sasha has made some lovely little cat bunting so I’m hoping to bring one home with me from Clutter City this Saturday.


detail of Kornelias stocking


And I thought I’d just share a close up of the jolly faced snowman….he’s my favourite motif of all……


tiny cream stocking with bear


I’m in the middle of embroidering and sewing some little sized stockings to bring to Saturday’s Clutter City ……these are just a nice size for filling with chocolate coins, a stick of peppermint candy, tiny play gifts to keep excited wee folk occupied while you are still bleary eyed and struggling with putting the kettle on for the earliest cup of tea in the year.


green hot water bottle


I’ll also be bringing along a nice selection of hot water bottle cosies …….these are all made from vintage wool blanket, and have a hand sewn appliqued bird motif on the front, made from 100 % pure wool felt…inside the bottle is fully lined which helps keep in the heat and makes them super warm to cuddle…they’re just the thing for people who have cold feet in bed.


blue sewing set


and there’ll also be some hand embroidered pin cushions and needle-cases….the Yuletide fair is on from 11 to 4 so if you’re in Norwich please pop in and say hello……


A Christmas stocking for Ivo…

ivos finished stocking


I’ve just finished sewing in the lining on this latest Christmas stocking…this one is all ready to send off to Norway to a little boy called Ivo.  (I made him a quilt earlier in the year)  Last year I made stockings for both his sisters, and then he was born this Spring.


detail of Ivos stocking


I’m really pleased with this one….I try not to make anything anymore that I don’t like making (I just don’t see the point) but these stockings really do have a big place in my heart….I never fail to smile when I’ve finished them, and love to play with them, filling them out toys and gifts to see how they’re going to look come Christmas morning. (gosh, can you imagine how disappointed you’d be to find one of these lovelies at the bottom of the bed, then only to find a piece of coal at the bottom.)

Now this one is finished I’m busy sewing up some smaller ones ready to take to Clutter City this Saturday at Norwich Art’s Centre….

While I’m sewing those I might possibly make some hot chocolate and pop in one of my favourite Christmas films, the excellent and dark Rare Exports….if you’ve not seen it you are in for a real treat.  It’s a Finnish film and is a bit scary (so not really suitable for children) …but oh my goodness, it’s so fantastic.  I’m completely in love with the little boy in it (Onni Tommila) he’s brilliant and just has the most beautiful face.


Charlie and the Christmas stocking…….

A stocking for Charlie


Oh my goodness, where did that year go…..I can’t believe it’s December already, I’m looking at my (well one of them) to do lists and I’m not sure how it will all get done (my list making is famed far and wide!)…I went round a friends’s house last week and she already had most of her decorations up (her house was like the most wonderful Christmas wonderland ever….all she needs is a tree and she’s set…..secretly I think she must be half elf or maybe she was raised by elves like Buddy, because she loves Christmas decorating and can transform anywhere into the most magical and smile inducing place……

I’ve not even put up the advent calender I made a few years ago for The Arpette…I’ll try get that up while he’s at work today, I’ve already got some chocolatey treats to fill it (seriously you’d think a grown man could be trusted if I filled the whole calender….ohhh you’d be so wrong.  In the past I’ve noticed the calender hanging at a semi drunk angle and realised chocolates were missing from random days, so I’ve learnt my lesson and only fill a couple of days now so the temptation isn’t so great…..hanging this calender up on the wall is one of my favourite things to do pre Christmas…just seeing it makes me smile (I had to be all sneaky and furtive when I made it as I wanted it to be a complete surprise when he came downstairs)…it’s part of our family’s (me, The Arpette and Bernard) seasonal traditions….

…and maybe I’ll get the fairy lights strung around the pictures behind the sofa…..fairy lights make it feel Christmassy (good advice from Meg Ryan in You’ve got Mail….love love love that shop)…… We’re so lucky in Norwich.  We have the most lovely independent book shop called The Book Hive, and next door to it is possibly the nicest toy shop ever called Tickety Boo.  I’ve had to pop into there recently for birthday gifts for our tiny sized nieces, and on Saturday bought presents there to send to Norway.  The staff were so helpful and friendly, and the toys are just so pretty…no plastic tacky rubbish but really nice things and even though I’m on a tight budget I thought they were reasonably priced and good value for money.

(tip to people who ask friends or relations what to get their children for Christmas and they pfaff about telling you or say “oh they like anything”….threaten to buy a penny whistle or kazoo……you get a present list extremely quickly!

Sorry I’ve rambled off on a bit of a one…


top of Charlies stocking


I posted this stocking off to Ireland on Saturday…there’s a little lad there who must have been a very good boy indeed as this is one of my Super sized stockings….These really are whoppers…..there isn’t much which won’t fit into them, possibly even Charlie himself!

If you’re in Norwich in a fortnights time ( Saturday December 13th*) I’ll be donating one of the Super sized stockings in the raffle at the Green Party Christmas Fair which is at the St. Thomas’s church rooms on Earlham Road in Norwich (it’s next to the Mitre pub if you’re feeling thirsty)…Bob Flowerdew from Radio Four’s Gardener’s Question Time will be opening the fair.


Snowman close up


……and then this Saturday coming (December 6th ) both me and my friend Sasha will be at Clutter City which is at Norwich Art’s Centre……so between now and then I can see it’ll be a bit of a sewing frenzy….with some fairy light flinging and calender hanging in there as well.

*I’m very excited because me and my foraging companion (the Delightful Miss Dasiy Bennet who makes the most delicious sloe gin of all time) have tickets to see the funniest woman in the world at The Playhouse  in Norwich later that same evening……Bob Flowerdew and Susan Calman in one day…..I think I’m just going to explode.