Friday 29 October 2010

Pirates and Pumpkins

The BIG pumpkin has been made into soup, now in the freezer, and this smiley lantern is all ready to beam out cheerfully to the children who call on us for sweets on Halloween night. I like the old traditions of carving lanterns, ducking for apples, and more recently giving out sweets to local children who dress up for trick or  treat - but nothing threatening or scary, not me, who can't bear scary movies of even the mildest kind!
Yesterday it was Charlie's 3rd birthday and Mr P took the morning off work (so did I but it's not quite the same thing!) and we went to wish him Happy Birthday and to give him his present - a wooden Pirate Ship complete with little pirates, treasure chest,a working anchor,cannon, sails with skull and crossbones....
It was sweet to see the little hands and the big hands assembling this wooden favourite bit was the stripy sails! I do love children's toys, especially wooden ones, or handmade sewn and knitted toys, though I also think some contemporary brightly coloured plastic toys can be gorgeous and well designed too, and children love to play imaginatively with them.

Thank you to those who kindly asked me about my choice of recipe after all my cook book browsing the other day.I decided to make Jools's Favourite Beef Stew from Jamie Oliver's book Jamie's Dinners. I know the family all love this dish as we had it last winter, and it will cook for ages in the aga so I don't have to worry about it all the time.
And finally here is my little blackboard planter filled up for Halloween weekend with some autumn garden snippets - berries, ivy, rosehips, some pretty leaves and the wonderful pink sedum flowers. I wish you all a wonderful weekend and a Happy Halloween!

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Making and Baking

Today I am browsing through my cookery books for something to make for the family next weekend. I fancy something hearty that can be baked slowly all afternoon in the oven. Last weekend something new and tasty appeared on our breakfast table - I made some homemade granola and it was truly deeeelicious!
I've been doing a bit of classic white baby knitting this week - a little wrap over pattern for Daisy Dot - you know how a girl just needs a white cardi? This one has a flower to stitch on where it fastens, which I'm looking forward to making when I've finished the rest of it.
And this week I got a BIG pumpkin - it's the weight of a small child as I discovered when I bought it at the greengrocer's and carried it back to the car. I've been enjoying its chubby orange beauty but now it's time to turn it into a smiling lantern....and a LOT of soup!
                                     Have a great day and enjoy your baking and making too.x

Monday 25 October 2010

Spooky Sewing

I have had this purple pumpkin fabric around for years, part of a Halloween themed bundle of printed cottons that I just had to buy at the time, not knowing why but...well I've said it before...some day it will come in handy! So I decided to make some speedy Halloween bunting for our sitting room mantlepiece. I cut the fabric into triangles using pinking shears and sewed it to a length of smooth cream string, and soon it was done!
Another little Halloween make is this small heart. I wonder if you recognise the fabric, or have bought it yourself perhaps - it's the Liberty fabric I got at the V&A Quilt Exhibition earlier this year. It was a popular print and lots of people I know seemed to choose it, as well as the other colour way on blue. I knew this fabric reminded me of something.....and for me it's perfect for an autumn project.
So I made this little padded heart to hang up in the kitchen, adorned with one of my favourite pumpkin buttons from Mill Hill and a little greeting printed using rubber stamps on a scrap of bias binding.
In my studio this week, though, it's springtime, and I am imagining blossoms, birds, early roses, butterflies and  the pretty flowers and scent of lilacs and lavender.....the lovely thing about our changing seasons is just that - the pleasures of each one are soon over but we can look forward so much to the next, and the next....
Have a lovely week. x

Friday 22 October 2010

Inspiration Boards

In my studio there are notice boards, mood boards and inspiration boards. Some of them are purely functional reminder boards like the one where I pin all the current commissions - if I didn't do this I'd be missing deadlines all the time! Another board is for the postcards I pick up at galleries, and a pin board above my computer is where I keep the day to day bits of paper.
Mood boards are things I create with a special project in mind, like a new book - I pin up everything that catches the feel, colours and subjects I want to include. This inspiration board is one I made just because I had lots of pretty things in similar colours that I wanted to put together. It's nice to look at among all the more functional things around me...

Something else that is lovely to look at today - the last roses from our garden that I picked yesterday to save the flowers a little bit longer - it was windy and rainy and cold out in the garden and I was amazed to find these delicate little blooms still flowering. They have hardly any scent left though - it must fade with the summer passing...
Thank you to all the visitors to my blog this week, I do love to read your comments and to visit your blogs too. Have a happy weekend! See you all next week. x

Thursday 21 October 2010

Pretty Things

I have a few little treats to show you today...the picture above shows a small tin filled with flora and fauna stickers which look like tiny pictures from old French engravings. I can't tell you where they came from as they were a present from a lovely friend. I put some of the butterfly stickers on a letter to my younger daughter (yes, I still send her the occasional letter as well as emails, texts and phoning!)
This lovely Forget Me Not necklace is from White Stuff - found on a shopping trip with my elder daughter the other day. (I love the quirky names this company invents for their products - this summer I wore their Lucky Star cardi and Make Us Proud skirt).
And the last treat is a tiny gift I made for someone, a flower pincushion with an applique flower and a little embroidery - you can't have too many pincushions! Back to work now - today it's designing cross stitch flower charts for magazine projects...and in a few spare moments making something for Halloween which I will show you next week. Hope you are having a lovely day. x

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Crafty Work

I'm working hard today on several projects - a magazine commission, something for a book, a quilt and some papercrafts. I just love my working days. I feel rather guilty to be saying I'm working at all as I love it so much! It's a strange thing being a freelance designer and working from home. I've always done it, apart from when I first graduated and I taught design and drawing at a college, but even then I was building up a collection of textile and wallpaper designs to exhibit in Holland and France. Those exhibitions and the commissions and contacts I made led to me being able to go freelance.

When my daughters were small I used to sell through design agents who took my work to customers and charged me a percentage. They would contact me with new commissions, sometimes visiting me at home to talk through the work, with the children actually there too! I used to do designs sometimes at weekends and in the evenings, during nap times - just whenever I could, I managed somehow.
It even counts as work when I go shopping - looking for props, spotting new trends, absorbing the newest colours and being inspired and of course buying crafts materials....soooo much part of my work!!
Time to stop and get BaCk to wOrK now...Have a great day! x

Monday 18 October 2010

A Bit of Baking

Hello! I hope you had a lovely weekend! We enjoyed ours - gardening, shopping, seeing family and friends - and a bit of baking which I am showing you today. Nothing fancy of course, I just make simple things...
Like these little cakes. I use Delia Smith's All in One Sponge recipe for my cakes, as I have for years, as she promised in her book that it will never go wrong and she was right!
Then there is the icing...we have a choice of pink or white with sprinkles. Now we have a little boy in the family I do try to have alternatives to pink....
The little cakes have all gone now, and it's fruit and vegetables all the way until next weekend! Apart from this little cake which is always around - a crochet cake which I bought on a shopping trip in the summer.
Hope you have a great week filled with sweet things. x

Saturday 16 October 2010

Sew Nostalgic

Here as promised are some pages from the 1970's Golden Hands crafts magazines. I've learned all kinds of useful sewing and general crafty tips just from browsing through while choosing pictures to show you.
Some of my favourites are the beautiful fashion drawings that I think are still lively and vibrant now - they speak of their era without looking dated.
This spread shows How To Tie Dye - such fun, everyone had a messy and so likely to cause a disaster and make your mum cross.....
Patchwork was really popular, especially using hexagons - and it was often used as an applique on clothes as well as the traditional grandmother's flower garden flower quilts.
I love some of the patterns for embroidery - like the delicate applique and embroidered flowers here.....
....and the cute little red and white spotted toadstools here. I just might have to stitch some of these...!

But now I'm going out to tidy my autumn garden while the sun is shining. I hope you all have a lovely weekend and the autumn (or spring!) sun is shining on you too. x

Thursday 14 October 2010

Just the One

Hello - just popping by to say there is a technical hitch on my blog today and I can only put on one picture at a time. After one pic it freezes up...So, in the spirit of the old sampler saying -'if life gives you lemons, make lemonade' I am posting just the one picture. This is a sweet little bundle of fabric that arived this week and I can't wait to begin sewing with it. It came from the gorgeous Fabric Rehab, such a lovely site.
I hope to bring you the post I'd planned yesterday as soon as my blog is fixed by whoever fixes these things out there in cyber land. It will be filled with retro pictures from my Golden Hands books, they are waiting here rather forlornly........ x

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Red, White and Dotty

If you like red and white spotted designs as much as I do, then I'm hoping you will enjoy this post! I think it began for me with children's books and the illustrations of red and white spotted toadstools that were frequently included then. I loved them - in some illustrations the little spotted toadstools had tiny ladders propped up against them and the animals - or sometimes pixies - in the stories climbed up and lived in them! They had little windows and doors! As a little girl I longed to climb the ladder and see inside a Toadstool House.
I made a red and white spotty seat cover to go on this chair, which came from my husband's great grandmother's house years ago and has been painted by me several times, and several colours. Now it's a cool white to match the New Bedroom.
And here are some more cute little red and white spotty toadstools - they were all packaged up together in cellophane in a garden shop - and I had to have them. What are they for? I don't know yet, but I'll think of something...Some day they will be just the very thing I need...x

Monday 11 October 2010

Sew Retro

It was lovely to take a little time this weekend, to have a pot of tea and a browse through a pile of retro sewing books. A while ago a family friend who knew about my sewing love kindly gave me her mother's collection of Golden Hands crafts books from the 1970's, that she no longer needed.
I was transported back to my schooldays, remembering these hugely popular 'part magazines' filled with trendy knitting, crochet, embroidery, dressmaking and all kinds of other craftyness. Some of the photographs are wonderful, in particular the close ups of embroidery and knitting, so clear and colourful which I don't think had been done like that before. Although some of the text is dated, and some of the fashion shots gave me laugh-out-loud moments, there are lots of wonderful things in these magazines and they will be a great resource. I'll post some pictures from inside them soon.

Yesterday we had a power cut here - an electric cable had broken in the road and it took 'the men' hours and hours to find and fix the fault. So Mr P and I spent a restful evening by candlelight and firelight. No knitting or sewing for me though...sigh. The power came on again at 4.15 am!

I hope your week has started well! And I hope to be back here tomorrow and a bit more regularly this week too. x

Friday 8 October 2010


This is a tiny alphabet sampler for a child's room, made up as a small decorative cushion and part of a project I designed for Crafts beautiful magazine earlier this year. On the back of the cushion I used some sweet nursery print fabric from here.
I really enjoy using the huge variety of Japanese prints available on children's themes, they are so pretty and well-designed and because of the small scale they work really well for mini projects and tiny appliques.

My post today has to be quick as I'll soon be looking after Daisy while her parents are at a wedding. She might snooze quite happily in the cot under the storybook quilt...or....she just might not!!

It's been a lovely week, and I've enjoyed having new visitors and visiting new blogs too. I'll be back soon. Have a great weekend. x

Wednesday 6 October 2010


This post is a celebration of the colour orange! I noticed this sign in the local garden centre and snapped a picture of it - it reminded me of the Keep Calm posters. And today I was inspired to use my most orange autumn pictures to celebrate the colour this week as suggested by the lovely Ginny at sweetmyrtle.
I realised that I rarely use the colour in designs, except for autumn designs or sometimes for a really bright contrast like a flower power card set I did for a magazine. Yet it is such a bright and cheering colour - why not?
It's good to have a fresh look at orange and think of all the things we like which are that colour - the fruits themselves, pumpkins, gourds, tomatoes turning from green to red, marmalade, lots of autumn berries on the trees, falling autumn leaves, chinese lanterns...the colour is so close to golden shades of honey, and to russet apples and certain varieties of plum that have an orangey glow...

So those are some of my orange pictures - I hope you like the spicy autumn shades and enjoy a bit of orange this week too!

P.S. Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my red flowers quilt - I'll show you what I've done with the flowers very soon! x