A Spring fling fair and a flurry of making….

 

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

The past few days have been a right old hive of busy-ness, my first craft fair of the year is on Saturday over at Holt, it’s been organised by lovely Ruth of Glory Days and I’m travelling there with my friend Sasha (who makes those gorgeous cat dolls and cheery rainbow ribbon clouds)….everywhere here there are piles of makes in various stages, along with strands of embroidery thread and tapestry wools as I sort out what needs what to be worked on to be finished in time……

Over the years I’ve found it’s more time efficient to work on a few pieces at a time, that way I don’t need to keep getting out and putting away the bigger pieces of equipment, but when there’s a craft fair due I set up little stations around the house (my work room isn’t huge) so I can have my sewing machine out along side the ironing board, and then any handsewing and embroidery is all done upstairs.

selection of botanical embroideries

My favourite part of making is the hand work, embroidering and embellishing, finishing off or just plain sewing patchwork, having the cloth soften as it’s handled, fingers brushing over the stitches and guiding the needle…there’s a connection there that I don’t feel when I’m using my electric sewing machine but I’d still be a bit lost without my Bernina, it’s not a flashy one, just a 1008, a proper work horse of a machine.  Without it I’d not be able to make half the things I do, fat layes of wool blanket slide along under it like a dream…

However things like my botanical embroidered lavender bags are all worked and sewn by hand, inspired by wild flowers from my walks and from hidden corners in my garden .  They aren’t a 5 minute make but are very satisfying to stitch, and the combination of curved edges and hand-sewn softness, the weight of the lavender, all feels very comforting when placed in the palm of your hand.

flower brooch 21

I’ll also be bringing along a selection of tiny flower posy brooches made from a variety of vintage and new wool.  These are some of my favourite things to make and each coat,jacket or cardigan I wear seems get adorned with one very quickly.

lavender embroidery up close

Each year I always try to have a bit of a re-think about what I’m making, not so much a change in style but questioning whether I still enjoy what I’m making, some pieces are very fiddly but give me pleasure to sew them, other pieces which weren’t time consuming but gave little enjoyment have fallen by the wayside.  If I don’t love it, or want it myself, then I don’t make it…

hand quilting on the diagonal

As well as bringing along new makes I’ll also have a small Sale section of pieces I don’t tend to make anymore, I need to create a bit of space where I store stock so there’ll be some proper bargains.  I’ve also got some little kits to make your own notebook cover as well as packs of pre cut squares and an instruction sheet to make your own hand sewn patchwork…. I’ve also made up some bags of fabric scraps which are ideal for said patchwork or other tiny projects.

As this is a Spring Fair just before Easter/Ostara I’m also making some special limited edition Spring themed items which would be perfect for Easter treats, any left over from Saturday’s fair will get popped into my Folksy shop on Sunday.

green hot water bottle cosie with brown bird applique

Probably one of my most popular makes has been my hot water bottle cosies….super thick and made from pure wool Witney vintage blankets they’ll keep your toes warm all through the night….as it’s still been a bit chilly here in the evenings I’ll be bringing a few of those along with me as well…. I know a couple of ladies who have told me how they use the cosies they’ve bought from me to keep their nighties in……

The cosies are all lined inside, no seams on show, the bird applique is all sewn by hand and uses pure wool felt.

I always enjoy doing fairs, I’m not able to attend as many as I’d like as I don’t drive and have to rely on public transport or the kindness of friends, but it’s always nice to get out and about, chatting to people who stop at my stall, seeing repeat customers and hearing about who got what at Christmas and which purchased as gift items were then kept for themselves (these confessions are always whispered then followed by a quick look around them and then much laughter)…..it’s also good to get feed back on new makes and if people miss things I no longer sew to sell

The fair is on from 10 until 4 and it’d be great if you’re able to pop down and say Hi.  If you read my blog then introduce yourself, say hello, don’t be a stranger…….Ruth has told me there’ll be plenty of home made cakes available so you won’t go away with a hungry tummy……

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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)

a proper old pickle and a sleepy shawl stealing cat……

it's all a bit of a pickle

This is the current state of play in one corner on my work table….it’s a proper old pickle as I’m on “craft fair countdown” mode…..next Monday there’ll be a quick tidy up then chaos will resume within hours….I always try and be neat and tidy but it never lasts for long…as soon as I start putting things away I always then need them straight away or just forget where I’ve put them.

Little piles of embroidery silks tumble over scraps of wool felt, I try to snip up the smallest pieces as I go along so I always have a ready supply of stuffing to hand….strands of silk I’m using for applique sewing float around everywhere and my footsteps down the stairs have become rather rainbow coloured the past few days…..

There’s a pointy tipped heap of skinny black pins, they were part of a birthday present, they come from Merchant and Mills and are wonderful to use…very sharp and they don’t rumple or bulge the felt as I lay out my applique…they’re also nice to use in finer fabrics as they’re so fine they don’t mark the cloth in the slightest.

work table chaos

I had the devil of a time yesterday trying to buy red velvet ribbon in the city…neither little haberdashery/sewing stall on the market carried it which is fair enough, but then when I went into a larger shop the girl in there looked at me like I’d asked for something really bizarre…to be honest she didn’t actually know what it was and then when I explained, said no she didn’t think they still made it. Sigh…so I ended up trekking down to Anglian Fashion Fabric on Magdalen Street which never lets me down, but was a bit further out then I’d intended to walk….I had a roll of lovely vintagey velvet ribbon from a car boot and now I’ve used it all up, I never thought it would be so hard to replace.

And I found 5 minutes to quickly pop into St Gregory’s Antique Centre as I was nearly all out of cream thread for sewing in the linings of my hot water bottles.  There is a very good haberdashery stall in there run by a lovely lady called Jenny, and it’s a rare old trip that doesn’t see me leave without a few brightly coloured reels of vintage cotton thread in a paper bag…memories of leaving sweet shops with a little bag of penny sweets always come to mind when I step out into the cold air.

detail of hand sewn applique

I’ve been sewing up hot water bottle cosies all week, hand sewing and embroidering little birds made out of pure wool felt onto vintage blanket fabric…at least with a pile of these on my lap I’m not feeling the cold.

detail of red bird applique

They’ve just gone into my Folksy shop as I’m trying to keep that nicely stocked up now til Christmas….

Originally the birds began life as brooches, just a couple of inches across, then slowly they grew a little larger and began to appear on notebook covers before they found their final home on tea cosies and hot water bottle covers.

I really like sewing using wool felt, it costs a bit more than the wool mix which a lot of shops seem to sell instead so I have to buy mine online…Handmade Presents is very good, they also sell wool felt which is plant dyed.  And the other place I buy from is Myriad (I’m also really tempted with their lovely wooden animals….

paws for a kitty toy

This is a bit of a secret sewing share now….between us (that’s me and my boyfriend)  we have five nieces, the ones on my side are all grown up now but in the past when they were all small and chubby of knee I’ve made them fairy dolls and mermaid ones (including one that came out so big she looked like she could have wrestled Moby Dick), but our other two are still pretty wee….I’ve made them both stockings and crochet blankets, but only Maggie has had any dolls made for her.  I ran out of time last year but this year I wanted to make Eliza an animal doll…her mum told me she really likes cats so I’ve started work on what I’m calling “licky paws”…(when I was asked for baby names licky paws was one of my suggestions and thought it would be a good working name for this little kitty).

The body is made from a Llama hair coat I bought years ago in Wells, it’s lovely and soft, yet the fabric is nice and robust and you can stuff it really firmly….the kitty pads are hole punched pieces of wool felt, made from the tiniest of scraps I get left with after cutting out my applique birds.

Turning the arms and legs right ways out always makes me feel like I’m going to bust something and have a hernia pop out…I seriously do not know how Sasha manages to make her dolls without doing herself a proper mischief as she often uses blanket fabric and I can’t turn that for toffee.

For now I’ve sewn the arms and legs, and need to stuff all of them before wedging them in the body but I won’t have time until after the 12th of December which is the date of my last fair.

the sleepiest cat in the world

The weather here has been pretty rotten…Bernard seems to dash out, do the world’s quickest wee then is back and nestled down in my shawl (it’s mine, not his even though he’s covering it in cat licky smell, and the look he gave me the other night when I went to put it round my shoulders was hilarious…puffed out cheeks and whiskers right forward….)

He’s feeling all sorry for himself at the moment, the kittens from next door beat him up…well we think it was them as they don’t seem to get on too well.  Bernard’s face is all scratches and he’s a bit flinchy when we stroke his head…the kittens are like 4/ 5 months old max, so he’s a bit of a wussy really.

He’s still jumping up on the sofa and cuddling alongside me in the early hours though the time is now spent embroidering snowflakes on stockings rather than knitting….but he’s been very good with the knitting wool.  I’ve been knitting up a couple of swatches for the British Breed swatch kal on Ravelry and the wool I used was lovely and sheepy scented so maybe he can smell the animal so leaves the wool alone…he sniffs it, rubs his face on it and there was a bit of licking at first…but he’s not run off with it or thrown it on the floor like he’s done in the past…..anyway, this one is for mon ami Celine….

Cuddling stockings and cosy things……

pink bottle with red bird

 

I’m slowly but surely stocking up the “shelves” of my Folksy shop……I’ve just added a selection of little bird hot water bottle cosies (it’s been so chilly here in Norfolk this last week or so that these have been a delight to sit and sew, having the blanket fabric on my lap while I’m applique-ing the birds in place has kept me very warm indeed) …this little rose pink cosy is probably my favourite (there is also one with a white bird)

 

blue bottle with thrush

 

This is the little brown song thrush all finished, and that’s now listed too.

 

blue trimmed stocking

 

And I’ve begun to list some Christmas Stockings….at the moment there are just a few of the small sized ones (I know it sounds daft but each one truly does get a little hug once I’ve finished sewing it…I never tire of sewing these and could quite happily sew them ’til the cows come home!)

 

raspberry pink stocking

 

I love this raspberry pink one too…..these are such a nice size to sew, but they are also just right to fill, in the past I’ve made them for my sisters and have filled them with small bottles of booze (a little Christmas Spirit!!), brightly wrapped chocolates, small oranges, walnuts, a couple of tiny presents…..but speaking to friends who have children these are also good for coloured pencils and small games (things to keep little ones out of mischief while everything is frantic in the kitchen and you’re still waking up)….and conveniently they are just spacious enough for bottles of Penhaligan’s scent (yes, I’m dropping a hint in case he’s reading this!!) or velvet jewelery boxes with sparkly things inside (I think I’ve been listening to Eartha Kitt too much today and it’s gone to my head!)

 

yellow peg bag

 

I’ve also listed some peg bags which I was embroidering the other week.

I’m just working on some needle-cases to match and then I’ll be listing the pin cushions (and offering them as a set)

There are also a few other items listed and more will appear in the next week or so.

 

 

Winter weather sewing…..

green hot water bottle

 

I’ve been busy sewing more hot water bottle cosies which will be listed in my folksy shop in the next few days.

It’s hard to want to sew them when the weather is nice and sunny, but as soon as it begins to turn chilly, and the clocks change then it’s a completely different story. All the wool blanket fabric comes down off the fabric shelves and I set about cutting out pattern shapes for cosies, stockings and tea pot covers.

 

pinning branch

 

Although I sew the main body of the cosy together on my Bernina (thank goodness for the walking foot, there is no way I’d be able to sew these on the beautiful Dorothy….)  all of the wool felt applique is pinned in place and then sewn by hand.  Generally, I use a mix of embroidery silks and vintage threads and small sharp needles.

 

embroidered bird

 

I love my little birds.  I always give them a tiny crown and teeny pink cheeks (and if you click the picture you should just be able to see the stitches around the edge of the cheek)…this little chap also has an embroidered breast which I don’t tend to do on the other coloured birds but the brown one reminds me of the song thrushes which live behind our house so I get a bit carried away when I’m embroidering those.

When I’m making a lot of cosies in one go it can feel a bit like a conveyor belt, over time I’ve found it easier (and quicker as there is less getting fabrics out and tidying away) to cut a stack of cosy shapes out first, and I also cut out the linings then too (all my cosies are fully lined so the seams are nicely hidden away), then I cut out branches, leaves and birds.  Once I’ve pinned and sewn the branches in place, I play around to see which bird looks best on the cosy, before sewing it in place and then arranging the leaves and sewing down the applique crocheted flowers.

I tend to work on about half a dozen of them at a time, more than that and I feel a bit swamped and lose track of smaller pieces, often misplacing piles of crowns and cheeks.

 

Little bird, little bird

little bird, little bird 001

 

I’m in the middle of sewing and crocheting, embroidering and quilting all ready for the Clutter City Post Winter Fair on March 17th.

 

little bird, little bird 005

 

Along with some new items that I’ve been busy working on since Christmas, I’ve also been sewing and embroidering some old favourites.

 

little bird, little bird 006

 

This is like a little strip-tease….. you can start whistling the stripper music any time you please…..

I really don’t like a lot of unnecessary packaging and when I do use it, I try to source recycled and acid free papers where I can…. however I do appreciate that there is something delightful in the act of carefully un-wrapping a present…..

 

little bird, little bird 007

 

These little bird brooches are about 3 inches long and are completely hand sewn from pure wool felt.  They are filled with a pinch of sheep’s fleece so they have fat tummy tumkins.

They are lovely for spring weddings, as a gift or to wear.  Originally I was commissioned to make a white brooch by a lady (whose name I now can’t find…I’m so sorry) who wanted a little gift for her daughter to take on her honeymoon.

 

little bird, little bird 010

 

Each nest is a little different in colour and size.  I really wanted to make some packaging that you would want to keep and not just throw away in the bin.   I was inspired to fill the nest with felt confetti after seeing a small birds nest at Norwich castle.  It had been found in the eaves of a church porch and the birds had used soft tissue confetti as lining for the nest.

 

little bird, little bird 012

 

The birds are available in other colours, and for the non-wedding brooches I fill the nests with green leaves for Spring and Summer, and an Autumn range of yellow,orange and red.  I’m planning to put some of these into my Folksy shop after the weekend.

When it’s cold outside…..

folksy hot water bottles dec 004

 

I’ve just updated my Folksy shop and have added three new hot water bottle cosies. They’re all made from vintage wool blankets and are fully lined inside.

 

folksy hot water bottles dec 005

 

They’re lovely and thick, and being made from vintage blanket fabric they’ll keep your hot water bottle super warm.  I like cuddling up with one on the sofa with a pot of tea and a good book.

 

folksy hot water bottles dec 015

 

The bird motif on the front is hand sewn using pure wool felt and then I’ve crocheted small flowers  for the branches.

When they’re not in use keeping you warm they also look pretty laying on your pillow with a nightie tucked inside.

 

 

Keeping warm and cosy this winter…..

hot water bottles bungay 006

 

I’ve just finished sewing some more hot water bottle cosies ready to take to Bungay on Sunday for their annual Christmas Street Fair.  If you’ve not been before it’s lots of fun, there are over 80 traders, lots of food and drink including a hog roast, and is a much loved local Christmas event.  I’ve got a stall indoors at the Fisher Theatre, and Father Christmas will be making an appearance as well.

 

hot water bottles bungay 013

 

Along with being at Bungay on Sunday, I’ll also be at the Norwich Castle Curious Christmas Fair on Friday December 6th, this is an evening event and finally on Saturday December 14th, I’ll be at Clutter City which is held at Norwich Arts Centre on St. Benedicts Street.

 

hot water bottles bungay 016

 

I bought a lovely vintage blanket which is almost an ice blue, I’ve used it for several of the new hot water bottle cosies with a variety of coloured birds on the front, all made using pure wool felt. I think the blue bird is my own favourite.

 

hot water bottles bungay 008

 

And I’ve got a new small bear, this little poppet was a birthday present from my friend Sasha who makes the most fantastically colourful toys and mobiles ever, (she’ll be at The Redwell Brewery tomorrow evening at their end of Mo-vember event with a selection of her beautiful handmade toys, and she’ll also be at the Norwich Castle Curious Christmas Craft Fair next Friday evening and at Clutter City on the 14th of December)  She doesn’t really do computery things and doesn’t sell on-line so you need to go to these events if you want to purchase any of her wares…(dropping heavy hints to the Arpette as although I may have one or two of her things..um maybe close to two dozen in all honesty…..I still feel our home can accommodate a few more things!!)

 

hot water bottles bungay 018

 

Along with lots of hot water bottle cosies to help keep off the chill this winter, I’ll also have a selection of Christmas Stockings (still not too late if you would like to commission a stocking for this Christmas), some baby quilts and other hand sewn items.

 

hot water bottles bungay 024

 

If you are able to make it to any of the Christmas fairs then please do pop by and say hello.

 

Cuddle up and get cosy…..

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Brrrr, the weather definitely has changed from Summer to Autumn.  I can’t believe how dark it is already in the mornings, any early hours sewing is now done with a light on.

In two weeks time I’ll be at Clutter City craft fair at Norwich’s Art Centre and have been sorting out stock to take and planning new things to make.

 

IMG_1414

 

These are a few pictures of some of the hot water bottle cosies I made last winter (I’ve still got a couple left which are  in my Folksy shop).  I made them from vintage wool blankets and then lined them with brushed cotton fabric.  They are just the thing for cuddling up with on cold afternoons or warming a chilly bed before retiring.

 

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The birds, branches and leaves are made from pure wool felt and are hand sewn in place.  The tiny wool flowers are hand crocheted and then sewn securely into position.  There is then a little extra embroidery along the wing.

 

IMG_1437

 

These are some of my favourite things to make as I like that they are pretty but also practical.  The pure wool felt is just lovely to sew with, it doesn’t pull apart and if the cosies get a bit grubby then you can gently hand wash them and the felt keeps nice (it doesn’t go all bobbly).

 

IMG_1440

 

I think this one was one of my  favourites, the blue fabric was some that my old Primary school teacher Mrs Jackson gave me.  Last year we had so many little sparrows and other small birds in the garden.  We have a small ornamental cherry tree in our garden which they liked to gather on.  They looked so pretty especially in the Spring when all the blossoms came out and the birds would almost disappear beneath the blossoms.

 

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