Saturday, 29 August 2009

Wow, what a great Saturday!

Wow, what a great Saturday I've had!

First good thing to happen to me today:
The postman delivered these gorgeous yarns to me this morning. I ordered them late on Thursday night from Wharfedale Woolworks on Folksy and they arrived in the post today. Great service!

The yarns are both lovely soft merino double knit, hand dyed in glorious colourways. The top skein is 'Ilkla Moor' and the bottom is 'Goldenacre'. Aren't they gorgeous? I don't know what to make with them yet, but I can't wait to get my hands/needles on them.

Second good thing to happen to me today:
I took part in the latest Folksy Destash Swap this week. For those of you who don't know, this involves looking through your stash of crafty stuff for things that you can part with, but you think someone else will be able to use. I think most crafters horde stuff, thinking 'that will be useful one day' but never getting round to actually doing anything with it! Destash swaps are great for this - you can pass on your stuff to someone else and hopefully receive other stuff in return that you can do something with.

This is the destash bundle that I put together for Annabella Designs. A shoebox full of fabric, ribbon, yarn, ribbon roses, sequins, beads and a little fabric heart that I made, and a couple of packs of seeds as I read on her blog that Annabella likes propagating plants. This is the first swap that I've done, so I wasn't sure how much, or what, to send.

Anyway, I was relieved to read Annabella's post on the Folksy Forum, she seems to be pleased with her destash swap selection:

Just to say a big thank you to BlissKnits for my swap which arrived this morning, delighted with my goodies will be blogging about them on the weekend..Thank you again to BlissKnits…Annabella xx
And this is the lovely bundle that I got today from Donna-Marie of D'z Jewells.

It's hard to see from the photo, but there was a really interesting selection of goodies: lots of beads of all shapes and sizes, buttons, drilled pieces of shell, mother of pearl discs and metallic charms that I can use for jewellery, or for embellishing bags and brooches; jewellery findings that are always useful; novelty bottle tops; 2 necklaces; metallic double pointed needles (must learn how to use them one day!); and an unusual gold coloured belt of fruit shapes (hard to visual, but I think a row of these will look great as a bag embellishment). There was also a fabric photo frame which I've given to my niece Sarah as she loves purple. My 3-year-old great niece Ellie took an instant shine to a little pink fabric teddy, so she was promised all the fabric teddies, rabbits and butterflies that were also in the box if she was good when we went out for lunch. She was very good!

Thanks Donna-Marie - you've certainly fired up my imagination!

Third good thing to happen to me today:
My mam took us out for a pub lunch today. The four of us (mam, niece, great niece and me) had a nice walk up to the pub; it was lovely and sunny, but REALLY windy. Sarah and Ellie had a play in the little park at the pub, and we all had a lovely lunch and chat; and then a nice walk back to mam's house for more reading (why to kids latch onto ONE book?) and playing with the destash goodies.

Fourth good thing to happen to me today:
My wonderful mam gave me TWO bunches of flowers for helping with the greenhouse erection. She couldn't decide whether to go for the pink/white colourway, or the autumnal shades, so she got both! Isn't she great?

Thanks mam! They look absolutely gorgeous!

So all in all, a VERY good day.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Why do I always leave things til the last minute?

I remember a teacher writing on a school report that I was 'easily distracted'. And I'm afraid that about 30 years later I still am!

Here's a lovely baby knit that I made for a work colleague this week. The design was from Let's Knit magazine's Natural Knits extra pattern book (July 2009).

I found that the instructions were quite confusing in a couple of places, but that could be the hour of the day that I was making it...

I started the design last week, but as already mentioned, I get easily distracted and wandered off to crochet a cupcake for my niece's birthday (see previous blog), and then I twittered, and blogged, and joined in the forums on Folksy. Honestly I spend more time on the laptop now than I actually do making stuff.

Anyway, I finished the baby tank top at 12.45am on Wednesday, ready to give to Jolene that day at work as she's on maternity leave from today (Friday) but I had Thurs and Fri off. Talk about leaving it to the last minute!

Jolene was thrilled with it, so that was a huge relief. And she's promised that her little one will send in a photo for my blog when he arrives!

Sorry for the quality of the photos - 12.45am is not the ideal time for snapping!

Must not be so easily distracted next time...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Handmade gifts for the birthday girl

Both of my nieces love to get 'bits and pieces' for their birthdays and Christmas, and I enjoy visiting craft fairs and independent shops, so all year round I'm on the lookout for handcrafted gifts that they'll love. Websites like Folksy are also great for a browse in a rainy lunch hour. It's just like one massive shopping mall, but the difference is that everything is lovingly handmade. Fantastic for that unique gift!

As I've mentioned previously, it was my eldest niece Louise's birthday last week and this is the bits and pieces selection that she got this year. She seemed really thrilled with everything I chose.

I bought this gorgeous purse from Dinky Daisy on Folksy. The beautifully made cotton purse is fully lined and is decorated with crocheted flowers, embroidery and a sweet little butterfly charm. I love the delicate colours, and all the different textures and details.

It came really prettily wrapped too.

Hubby and I spent a great week in Polruan, Cornwall in June. As well as the spectacular coastline, fantastic gardens and charming villages, I love to visit the gift shops and galleries, looking for that special something that I know a friend or relative will adore.

This necklace came from one such shop - Bibi in Fowey. A great little shop selling an eclectic mix of accessories and gift ideas. The different shades of green mixed with the old gold look stunning, I think.

Louise loves her cuddlies, so as soon as I saw the sock bunnies from The Warren on Folksy I knew I'd have to pick one for her birthday. She loves pink too, so Checker Bunny and Baby Pinky seemed like the ideal choice.

But you don't just get a bunny in her sleeping bag, you get a postcard, badge and sticker too, with a request to keep in touch with the other bunnies back at The Warren via the Widget and Friends blog. I'm sure Louise will have great fun taking photos of Checker Bunny when she jets off to Australia soon.

And the last gift was made by myself - a tasty looking birthday cupcake, from a pattern in Let's Get Crafting! magazine (crochet edition). There were four different crocheted cakes to choose from, and the instructions were really easy to understand. I changed the colours to use what yarn I had available, and I mixed and matched the techniques to give an individual cake. I think the finished item looks absolutely gorgeous - delicate pastry, juicy fruit and luscious cream - Mmmmm!

I've already got one thing for my other niece's birthday, but I've got plenty of time to get a few other gifts as it's not Sarah's birthday until December.

And that's when Folksy will really come into it's own - no more trudging through the snow to go Christmas shopping, or braving cold winds and driving rain; no screaming kids and frustrated shoppers - I can just sit nice and warm and dry at home, with a glass of wine in one hand and a credit card in the other...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Bunnies reunited

(...continued from previous post)

As soon as the friendly bee told Baby Pinky where she'd last seen Checker Bunny, off she hopped as quickly as she could.

It was quite a big climb to the top of the Box plant. She was getting very tired when...

...she saw her mummy. Baby Pinky was so excited that she nearly had a little 'accident'. CB managed to stop her baby from jumping up and down long enough to take off the little bit of packaging ribbon that had been tangled around her ear. And then they had a BIG hug.

Baby Pinky was feeling quite sleepy after all that travelling (and bouncing) so Checker Bunny showed her the pretty little flower 'bed' that she'd found earlier in the week, and they had a little snooze in the sun.

Baby Pinky was very hungry when she woke up. "No Pinky! Not the chillies! They'll blow your socks off!", shouted Checker Bunny, just in time...

...maybe some nice fresh herbs would be more tasty. "Pinky you're supposed to eat them, not sit on them!", sighed CB (she'd forgotten just how inquisitive her daughter could be!)

"How about that carrot that you brought with you? That will be SO MUCH nicer", said Checker Bunny, as she popped Baby Pinky into her little sleeping bag, ready for another nap.

Checker Bunny and Baby Pinky had a lovely few days, exploring the garden and catching up on the gossip. CB loved hearing about what Widget had been up to back at The Warren since she'd been gone.

Baby Pinky loved visiting her mummy; she'd really missed her this last couple of weeks. Checker Bunny thought it would be lovely to stay together and I agreed that my niece, Louise, would love to adopt them both. And so it was decided that both Checker Bunny and Baby Pinky would go to stay with her as soon as it was her birthday.

Baby Pinky settled down for bed that night so happy that she was going to live with her mummy forever. It was raining and a little bit chilly outside so they snuggled into the box of Bliss Knits' scarves to get nice and cosy, and Checker Bunny told her what to expect in their new home. She'd heard that Louise was a nurse so she'd be working funny hours, but that she would be ready with a cuddle and a chat anytime they wanted one. And she was going off to Australia soon, so there would be lots of packing and organising for them to help with. Baby Pinky was so excited; she loved checking too, just like her mummy!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Checker Bunny on holiday

Checker Bunny arrived in my garden a couple of weeks ago. She is going to be adopted by one of my nieces on her birthday, and her friend (and fellow sock bunny) Widget thought coming early would give CB time to acclimatise to the North East weather before jetting off to her new permanent home (she comes from The Warren in West Sussex - it's much warmer down there).

She had been stuck in the post office for a week, with only one carrot to nibble on, so was desperate to stretch her ears.

Unfortunately, in her haste, she forgot to get out of her little sleeping bag and found it quite difficult climbing the tree. CB had a good look around the garden from her vantage point...

...spotting some nice soft plants to jump around in.

Checker Bunny didn't just explore the garden though. She lived up to her name by inspecting the stock in my Folksy shop...

...and by approving the prices for the new scarves in the Bliss Knits autumn/winter collection.

All that checking was quite tiring though, and CB WAS on holiday after all, so she spent most of her first week finding pretty places to sunbathe.

After a week of relaxing and exploring the garden, CB discovered that her daughter was coming to visit for a few days. She found another tree to climb to give her a good view, and waited.

However, she got distracted by some lovely herby smells and hopped off to investigate...

... and missed the postman, who kindly left Baby Pinky on the garden bench to wait rather than being taken back to the post office.

Baby Pinky was so excited to have finally arrived. She lost no time in hopping out of her sleeping bag and travelling box, and with packaging ribbon still tangled up around one of her ears, she set off in search of her mummy.

Baby Pinky looked everywhere she could, but she's so small that she soon got lost amongst the plants.

She was very brave though and decided it would be a good idea to ask one of the garden residents if he had seen Checker Bunny anywhere, but the snail didn't have much to say.

Baby Pinky was becoming very sad and lonely. And then, luckily, a friendly bee came by, and she knew exactly where to find her mummy... be continued.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

So many books, not enough time

I've always loved books. I buy far more books than I actually read though, so I have bookcases sagging under their weight, awaiting the day I retire or break a leg!

Gardening books are a favourite - great for picking up tips and learning about 'what to do in your garden this month'; or flicking through design books, creating a wish list of glorious plants and planning for my dream bigger patch.

Craft books are great sources of inspiration for me too, and a fount of knowledge. I love learning new things but don't always have the patience to stick with one thing. I'm always wanting to try new techniques - patchwork, quilting, beading, felting, applique, knitting, crochet, freestyle embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, ragwork, Kumihimo - I've tried them all! Fabric and yarn are the common factors though.

Aside from the gardening and craft books I also have a tonne of fiction waiting for my time. I do have a few favourite authors (Jodi Picoult, James Patterson, Jean M. Auel amongst others) that I keep turning back too, but I enjoy reading all sorts really. I've had a few packs of books from The Book People before and they're great for trying out new authors (they sell packs of ten books for £10 - on a certain theme, or a collection of one author). I also frequent the charity book shops and just pick up whatever takes my fancy that day. I'll get round to reading them all one day! My Dad was a great reader too and he obviously passed on his love of books as my sister, brother and nieces enjoy reading too.

A couple of years ago I spent a lot of time travelling to and from work so I thought it was the ideal opportunity to do something useful rather than just looking out of the window or reading the posters (trying to avoid catching the eyes of fellow travellers!) I decided to set myself a target to read a book a week. In 2007 I managed to read 53 books (a slight counting error led to an extra book by the end of the year!) But part-way through 2008 I changed jobs and my travelling time halved, so I only read 45 books that year. This year, so far, I'm only up to 23 books, which isn't bad really (you can see what I've read this year in the list to the right).

I finished 'The Olive Farm' by Carol Drinkwater last night. I thought it might be just another of those - move abroad, buy derelict cottage, do it up, try to converse with the locals - sort of book but I was pleasantly surprised. As the book states it's 'a memoir of life, love and olive oil in the South of France'. The book is intelligently written; and the detailed descriptions create a really vivid and atmospheric image of renovating, and living on, a run-down but now successful Provencal olive farm. The author has produced an incredibly passionate tale of the highs and lows of her family and professional life, of attracting stray dogs, harvesting olives, travelling the world as an actress and trying to find success as a screen writer.

I've just started 'The Surgeon' by Tess Gerritsen today. Have you read it? What do you enjoy reading? Do you stick to books by your favourite author or do you enjoy walking down new literary avenues?

Sunday, 16 August 2009


The weather has been a bit rubbish of late and there definitely seems to be a chill in the air... autumn is on its way!

So, I'm having a kind of 'spring clean' and clearing out some of last year's winter scarves that didn't sell, before I advertise the brand spanking new ones for this year's autumn/winter collection.

I've listed five scarves at HALF PRICE on my Folksy shop (, but here's a quick peak at one - this is my 'Kaleidoscope' scarf, now priced at a bargain £9.50.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Florals on Folksy

As regular readers of this blog will know, I take a great deal of pleasure and inspiration from my garden, and so do a lot of my fellow Folksy makers and sellers. Here's a selection of some of my favourite florals that are available from Folksy NOW. Click on the photos themselves to go to the individual shops. Enjoy!

Felted Flower Corsage - £15.00 - Fibrespace

Crocheted Daisy Pouch with Handle - £8.00 - Dinky Daisy

Metal Frame Clutch Bag/Purse - £11.50 - Girl of the Sixties

3 Rosebud Pink Flowers - £12.50 - hmsdesign

Linen Applique Flowers + Bunting Cushion - £55.00 - Ticketty Boo

Polka Dot Tote Bag - £15.00 - Polka

Vintage Retro Elephant - £12.00 - Zoe Sharp Crafts

'Portman' Flower Bracelet - £18.00 - Viva La Beader

Flamenco Rose Bracelet - £18.00 - Kath Good

Garden Journal - £5.50 - Slugs & Snails

I love them all! Is it too early to write my letter to Santa do you think?!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Model Customer # 2

Fanfare, drum roll, huge round of applause for my latest 'Model Customer'...

This is Tamara from Aberdeen. She is the proud owner of my 'Romance' scarf. Tamara says: "The scarf is really cosy and warm - and pink is my favourite colour." I can see why it's your favourite colour Tamara - it really does suit you!

And still on the knitting theme... I've been looking through all my old knitting magazines tonight for a nice baby pattern. My nephew's partner is due to have their first baby in October so I'm keen to clothe the little one in something handmade. I've been so busy experimenting with crochet and making stuff for my Folksy shop that I've left this quite late really. I should have time to make a couple of items for my new Great Niece though. I'll post a photo when I decide what to do...

Monday, 10 August 2009

Mam's new greenhouse

Those of you that have read my blog before may have already seen the post about the demolition of Dad's Old Greenhouse after thirty years of use. Well this Saturday was another big day for us, with the erection of Mam's New Greenhouse.

The new greenhouse was delivered only three weeks after ordering so it was really good service by The Greenhouse People. However, we found that the instructions were really quite hard to understand. As with a lot of instructions the diagrams were quite basic, and though each piece was numbered it was difficult trying to work out which way was up, or which was the front or back of the various pieces. The written instructions were even worse: 'Attach thingamiwotsit to flibbertigibbet making sure that you don't forget the doofer' (honestly!!!).

Anyway, we managed it in the end - though it took us 12 HOURS to finish it! Actually, the instructions mentioned to leave a weekend to erect the greenhouse, so that was probably about right. We started at 9am and it took us til about 4pm to do the framework, so we just decided to carry on and get the glazing done that day too. Saturday was hot and sunny so were flagging a bit in the heat - and my legs are still aching two days later with all that bending. But it was well worth it. Mam is really pleased with her new toy and she thinks Dad would have loved it too. She's looking forward to putting her plants back in, once the new staging has been erected - another day!

Last week, when us girls were at the flower show, my brother-in-law lay some new paving to act as a nice level base for the new greenhouse.

The sides and roof were all put together separately and then attached to the base. Here's my sis and her hubby trying to work out the next bit - the glazing plan.

And here's the finished greenhouse. It's not far off the size of dad's old greenhouse - the same width but about three few feet shorter lengthways. Doesn't it look lovely? It doesn't have the character of the old one, but it will be safer and easier for mam to maintain in the future.

It was starting to get dark as we finished, so it was ideal timing really. Mam took this picture of her workers - look, we're STILL smiling!

Mam has spent a little while today getting her new greenhouse all spic and span - cleaning our mucky fingermarks off the glass, sweeping the flags, and putting 104 (she counted!) little black covers on the bolt heads. She's put a couple of her big tomato plants in already, and once the staging gets built she can move the bonsai plants into their new home too; and the downpipes need to be fitted for the water butts - and then we're done!! Mam did a disappearing act whenever the camera came out, but I'm sure I can sneak one of her when she moves all the plants back in...