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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All ready for a Super Spring Fling Fair in Holt……

floral sewing set

 

I’m all in a pickle trying to get things ready in time for tomorrow’s Spring Fair at Glory Days in Holt…I’ve hurt my wrist (actually it’s been painful for a while and the sensible thing to do would have been to rest it but oh no, I kept sewing and now every stitch is at tortoise speed) so I seem about two weeks behind where I really wanted to be…..at the moment the air is all lavender scented as I’m filling little hand sewn sachets with lavender…I’m keeping an eye on the door as Bernard loves lavender and keep expecting him to jump up and scatter lavender everywhere……

Everywhere round the house are dotted small piles of items I’m planning to bring along with me…I don’t know if it’s a really good business plan but I only really make things that I’d like to have myself….I love pincushions, and find I can never have enough…..these ones are stuffed right full of tiny snipped pieces of fabric scraps and hold pins really tightly, they’ve also been hand pieced together over papers.

 

group of small needlecases

 

Each time I make a batch of needle-cases I always end up falling a little in love with them and find myself popping one into my work box for myself (I now have needle-cases for every type of needles under the sun)…these ones are patch-worked with some hand embroidery detailing over top…

 

yellow peg bag

 

I’m also bringing along some embroidered peg bags…..these are all fully lined with vintage fabrics.

 

flower brooch 21

 

These tiny flower posy brooches are one of my most favourite things…I’ve made them to match most of my wardrobe, and last year “hunky Hugh” (a big burly policeman who wears the most brightly coloured socks) commissioned me to make him one to match a beautiful tweed coat…..each posy brooch is crocheted with the backs being covered in pure wool felt……

 

tea cosies 007

 

I’ve still got a couple of bird tea cosies left, these have been hand appliqued using pure wool felt.  They’re double lined with some extra thick vintage blanket used as wadding….these cosies keep your tea super hot…I’ve also got some cup cake ones which I’ll be taking along too.

 

cosies for glasses 006

 

I made these glasses cases out of some beautiful vintage tweed fabric, and they’re lined with lovely thick velvet to help protect your spectacle lenses.

 

bunny faces and hangers 009

 

Some of the most popular items I’ve made have been these bunny faced child sized coat hangers …the hangers are made from beautifully soft vintage blankets filled with local Norfolk lavender…the bunnies are hand sewn using pure wool felt and even those little pink cheeks are sewn on by hand.

Along with the above items there’ll be some new embroidered items which I’m hoping to write about in the next few days.

Time for a cup of tea and back to filling linen sachets with lavender and roses.

My friend Sasha will also be at the Spring Fair where she’ll have the most colourful stall full of beautiful handmade toys, cushions and general gorgeousness.  She doesn’t sell on-line and all her pieces are unique and one of a kind so it’s well worth the trip to see what she’ll have there this time.

Woolly flowered embroideries and getting lost in the ancient world……..

flower embroidery

 

While it’s been somewhat nippy outsdoors I’ve stayed inside with a pot of tea never far away and a pile of tapestry and crewel wools beside me while I continue with more embroidering on wool fabric, I’ve been repeating the forget-me-not-esque motif I’d sewn on the bunny along the front of a cafetiere cosy.

I’d already embroidered some hot water bottles before Christmas but haven’t had a chance to sew up the sides and sew in the linings though they are on one of the many to do lists that I have pinned up in front of me.

I’ve used an aptly named stem stitch this time for the stem and then it’s lazy daisy’s for the petals and leaves with an extra stitch in the middle to fill in the gap.  The wool used is lovely Penelope tapestry wool, it’s so soft and the colours are really gentle.  It’s slightly thinner than today’s tapestry wool and is my favourite wool for embroidering.

 

embroidery for cosy

 

And this is another cafetiere cosy, slightly different shape, being a smidge taller. Again I’ve used vintage Penelope tapestry wool, this time in an amber shade.   Once I’ve embroidered the lazy daisy’s I’ve gone back over the stitches with a highlight of crewel wool in mustard.  The leaves are made up of fly stitches, all using crewel wool, and I’ve used a diamond crewel embroidery needle number 5.(the ones I use are some lovely antique Kirby’s of London brand needle, still beautifully sharp after goodness knows how long, and are a perfect needle for embroidering on wool fabric.)

 

embroidered cosy on sewing table

 

Amongst the scattered flowers are clusters of French knots (actually they are figure 8 knots or colonial knots, you can pull them in tighter and they look pretty much the same as a French knot…there are lots of easy to follow tutorials on you-tube if you are unfamiliar with this stitch.)

In the background is a messy as ever work table, (actually this is really tidy compared to how it often looks) with making notes on the pin board behind and some of the jugs of paint brushes and pens, clay tools and scissors that seem to multiply by themselves. (if you click on the picture to make it big, you’ll see the brushes at the back are stored in a huge hot chocolate tub…..this isn’t from a cafe or coffee shop, this is the size we buy for home……it made me laugh seeing it in the picture because I realise we look like a right pair of Tummy Tumpkins)

 

embroidery close up

 

I’m really pleased with how this motif has come out, it’s nice and simple to do, not too fiddly and although it takes a little practise to get the lazy daisy’s just right, once you get the hang then they almost make themselves.

I mentioned the other day that my friend Ruth who has Glory Days in Holt has asked me if I’d be interested in running a workshop once she has moved to a larger premises and I’m thinking I’d quite like to incorporate some wool embroidery in what I make……I don’t have a car so I’m thinking machine sewing (ugh ugh ugh……okay, I do do some sewing on a machine, I’d have the devil of a time trying to sew my Christmas stockings and hot water bottle cosy’s without my Bernina and it’s walking foot, but I don’t get the same pleasure as when I snip some cotton, thread up a needle and sew by hand) is out the window as I can’t really be lugging about a big machine on the bus, but a basket of wool and embroidering needles is much more manageable.

 

side view

 

I’ve continued the pattern around the side so it gently tapers off at the back.  As these cosies are made a little different from when I’ve made them in the past (the bottoms tuck up and in, then lining is slip stitched in to place…..when I’ve made them prevously I’ve sewn lining, wadding and cover together and then covered the hem in binding) I thought the back would look a bit drab if I didn’t add a little point of interest.

I’m hoping to get these all finished in the next day or so, the weather has been a bit too breezy and wet to lure me out for a walk, so pots of tea, wool embroidery and listening to John Romer* are my plans for the day.

*In case you don’t know who he is, John Romer is probably one of the most well known television presenter of ancient history in the UK.  He’s fantastically interesting to listen to and his enthusiasm is a real joy to watch, but it’s been some years since he had a series on television.  His series Seven Wonders of The Ancient World is still available to purchase (it’s a real treat, he really brings you in to the history and myth of these statues and buildings)  but if you don’t want to buy it you could try at your local library to see if they can get it for you.  However the other series are really hard to find but I discovered recently if you look on You tube then a lot of them are on there.  His Seven Wonders will always be my favourite, he looks so happy as he is describing the absolute wonder and importance of archaeological finds…oh I just love him to bits.  But also good is his Ancient Lives series (he’s look all young and rosy cheeked in that one), and his series Byzantium.  I think there are 7 documentary films by him in all and they are all totally captivating, I admit I do look up a fair bit while he’s talking as it’s lovely to see him beam as he describes life in ancient cities, or the tools used to make the statue of Zeus at Olympia and the lost techniques used to make it.

His books are also fascinating to read, I’m not a scholar but they are very readable, he really makes the past come alive and his enthusiasm and love for his subject is highly infectious.  I’m totally not fussed by Hollywood heart-throbs but I know if I ever got to meet John Romer then I’d be all giggles and pink cheeks and completely lost for words.

One of my favourite blogs to read is the one Ann Wood writes, she’s an American artist and I’ve loved her work for a few years now…I first heard about her in a pod cast by Paul Overton (his site Dude Craft is just amazing and it’s where I first came across the work of workbyknight.  His granny square collection is just mind-blowingly brilliant, because I’m not very technical I thought at first these really were all crocheted up, for real, however it is in fact all on the computer which makes it no less awesome, just less cuddly….the cat pictures are my favourite as is the one of Dame Edna Everage….have a look, they truly are stunning…..oh, you need to click on the image a couple of times to get the full fantastic granny squares crochet effect)….

Anyway Ann Wood’s latest post (feb 5th 2015) is really good, I’m sure the time squandering she writes about is familiar to anyone who works at home, it’s making me think I need to do the same sort of thing as hours seem to disappear all the time.  And if you enjoy reading that you might like to pop over to While she naps where Abby Glassenberg interviews Ann for a podcast…….have listened to it now a couple of times, it’s brilliant.  There is also a section on her site where you can buy her patterns, these are just the nicest patterns with clear and well written instructions, and easy to follow illustrations…her little bird pattern is a particular favourite.  The patterns are downloadable and are brilliant value for money.

my favourite pot of tea…..

winter rose tea pot

 

A few weeks ago I read this lovely post by Milla and though I don’t really have a favourite cup anymore (due to the fact that at times I can be incredibly clumsy and have managed to break or chip beyond safe use all my most beloved mugs) I do have a few favourite tea pots which I like to use when I’m making tea….

This beautiful little Winter rose teapot is the one I use everyday, it’s just the right size to make one mug of tea.

I am a bit of a tea fiend, I start the day with a latte and then for the rest of the tea I drink tea….probably about 5 cups a day…sometimes a few cups more.  I used to drink lots of coffee but then I found it wasn’t really suiting my tummy, and also I would get really grumpy if I didn’t get my caffeine fix.  So now one cup of coffee a day is just right (every so often I’ll have two if I am in the city ….but if I have three I have to walk home rather than catch the bus as I get a bit hyper and have far too much energy!)

I think my favourite tea nowadays is the Earl Grey tea from James Gourmet Coffee….it’s delicately perfumed without tasting yucky.  It’s a loose tea and it smells amazing, and tastes delicious.  I’m not all posh and fancy, so I like my Earl Grey with milk rather than with lemon…..

 

small cosy

 

A couple of years ago I bought this tiny little tea cosy..It’s hand knitted and was about 50p from a car-boot….it’s not particularly pretty but it’s a perfect fit and keeps my pot of tea lovely and hot.

 

white and yellow roses

 

If we’ve got guests then I often use this tea pot, I love the shape and colour of it so much….it’s a good size for making two or more cups of tea.

A couple of years ago I discovered paper tea filters, until then I’d just put loose tea in a pot and used a tea strainer (inevitably dripping tea all over the kitchen)….the tea filters are really easy to use and when the tea has brewed you can whip them out of the tea pot and stick them in to the compost, and as long as you have a cosy on your tea pot keeping the tea warm, then you’ll have two hot cups of tea without it tasting stewed….. (stewed tea makes me shiver…and not with pleasure)

I love the ritual of making tea, boiling the kettle, warming the pot then opening the tea tin, spooning the loose tea into the paper filter, putting that into the pot, pouring on water, putting the lid on, dressing the tea pot with it’s cosy…allowing the tea to steep before poring it into a cup (tea first then milk)….it’s nice and relaxing, and it’s something I wouldn’t dream of not doing when I have friends round, (along with cake and biscuits on a plate) so it’s equally nice to make this effort for myself…..however sometimes I’ll just stick a tea bag into a mug and pour on the boiled water and make the tea that way, it’s quick but doesn’t taste the same.  (if I’m using tea bags then I like Twinings tea, my favourite being their Lady Grey tea)

 

crocheted cosy

 

This was another car booty tea cosy find…. I can’t remember exactly how much I paid for it but it wouldn’t have been more than a pound at the very most…..it’s crocheted and ribbed which I think is very smart indeed.

 

I’m a bit prone to snuffles and colds in the winter, so rather than make a pot of tea, I’ll often make a pot of honey and lemon juice, sometimes adding a little fresh ginger juice if I have a bad throat as well…..with a tea cosy the pot keeps beautifully warm and I can drink several cups before the pot is empty.

 

house cosy

 

This is another cosy that fits the white and yellow rose teapot….I bought it a few months ago in a charity shop in Bungay…. I love it, it’s such a simple shape….I had thought about blinging it up a bit, adding some extra flowers but I quite like it how it is….

 

blue and white tea post

 

This is my poshest tea pot, it comes from a dinner set that was my Nanny’s….the set was divided up between me and my sisters, and over time this is all that I have left (in part because as I mentioned earlier I am somewhat clumsy, but also a box of crockery ended up at a charity shop by mistake when I moved house….and by the time I had realised what had happened it was too late….anyway, I love the big fat tummy of this tea pot…it’s so round, it’s perfect.

 

flouncy

 

My friend Beth bought me this tea cosy, it’s incredibly flouncy, and makes me think of crinoline lady embroideries…..it’s a bit of  a squeeze on this tea cosy (it’s such a fatty) but it just about fits.  The cosy is hand knitted and the ruffles look like tiny fox glove petals…..

If I need to make more than three cups of tea then this is the tea pot I’ll use as it’s nice and big, meaning everyone will get a decent sized drink rather than just a tiny sip.

The Arpette cycles to work and in the winter comes home rosy cheeked and pink nosed….I’ll often make us hot chocolate (again from James Gourmet…the container size of chocolate is incredible, it’s hilariously huge, and makes me think of those giant sized mock foods that shops used to have up on the highest shelves)…..

I’d really like a proper old timey enamelled chocolate pot (in my dreams it would be orangey red or a beautiful soft blue) but the ones in my imagination are far nicer than the ones I’ve seen for sale.  If it is particularly cold I’ll add in a splash of Pomona or brandy to the hot chocolate….purely medicinal of course, to ward off chest colds and the like.

 

Bernard and his quilt

 

A sure sign that the weather is cooling and Summer is slowly coming to an end is that someone is quite happy to be all cosified and cuddled up in a quilt and blanket…..he was like this all afternoon at the weekend.  He snores really loudly, every-so often there is a yawn, a stretch, a smacking of the lips then he cuddles back down under the covers

Time for tea…..

tea cosies 007

I’ve just put a couple of tea-cosies into the Folksy shop.  They are both made from a soft blue vintage wool blanket and are hand appliqued with wool felt birds.

They are super thick as I use an extra layer of blanket fabric inside as wadding before lining them, so they really do keep a pot of tea hot until the last cup.

tea cosies 008

The birds on the cosies are made from pure wool felt, they’re sewn on by hand and then they are further embellished with hand embroidery and silver thread.

tea cosies 004

When the weather turns cold I like to fill a tea pot with a couple of spoons of honey, some lemon juice and then boiled water, using a tea cosy helps to keep this super nice and hot, and it saves me having to keep getting up to put the kettle on.

The books to the side are some of the Clothbound Classics from Penguin Books.  I’ve been collecting them since they started releasing them a few years ago and I really do love them, the covers are really beautiful and the paper is nice too (some of the nice fancy editions that seem to be appearing in shops lately have been so flimsy….. not impressed at all)

And a couple of Christmassy craft fair updates, I’m going to be at the Bungay Christmas Street Fair on Sunday December 1st, I’ll be indoors at The Fisher Theatre (much much warmer), and then on Friday December 6th, in the evening, I’ll be at The Curious Christmas Craft Fair at Norwich Castle.