Happy Feet

I’m celebrating the completion of a second pair of socks!  Despite my little difficulty about repeating myself, I’ve actually made not one but two pairs of matching socks with Christmas presents in mind.  I don’t make them for just anybody.  They take too long, and the wool is too expensive to give then to the people who look at them askance and then buy multipacks of sports socks from Matalan (you know who you are!) No my socks are for the appreciative people in my life, and for them I am happy to acknowledge the fact that they have  two feet and go that extra mile to produce two socks the same.  Although the price of a ball of sock yarn to produce one pair is more than that multi pack, I realised today as I was lining  up my personal collection  for a photoshoot that I am still wearing the first pair I ever made, in 2004.  And they still make me happy…

I had a little help with the photography, Higgins wasn’t sure about the lighting…


The Pig of Happiness

Today I met Pink Sheep’s little pink friend, and in the spirit of cheering up a dull cold afternoon, I would like to share him, and spread a little of his happiness…

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Electrical Disturbances

A couple of years ago, at the end of a fairly protracted renovation project on our house, we had a house fire. Only a little fire, but with vast amounts of smoke from all the electrical wiring involved, which permeated the entire house with thick black oily smoke. Only the week before I had been taken off to hospital in an ambulance with appendicitis so I and Henry the cat were safely recuperating at my mother’s house on the other side  the village at the time of the fire. In my rather fragile state, the state of our house and possessions was enough to cope with, I really didn’t need to hear too much detail about the actual event. Unfortunately, my mother’s gardener at the time was a retained fireman, a garrulous man who delighted in the opportunity to lean on his spade and hold forth. Thus cornered one day he regaled me with the exciting tale of how he had broken down our front door with an axe, and with non existant visibility had gone in wearing breathing apparatus, and crawled around on the bedroom floor looking for my body! These images haunted me for months, and I struggled with settling back into our home for quite some time because of them.

All this is to set the scene so that you can imagine how I felt at quarter to five this morning, with Tim in the middle of the North Sea, waking up from a deep sleep and hearing the crackling of electric wiring shorting. Having established it was coming from the main electrical feed into the house, what to do? I did NOT want a posse of firefighters with axes, even if they were potential calender material. I found the emergency electricity number, and pressed 1 for ‘Dangerous Situations’ and talked to Lee. His answer to ‘Is it likely to cause a fire was “Yes, and no”‘ Hmm, reassuring. His solution was to turn off everything at the mains, and wait for a man to call. We waited, me, Henry and Higgins, in the candlelight. I don’t know what they thought, Higgins had a dog chew so probably not a lot. I thought about all those disaster movies where someone looks at a cupboard and says ‘I wonder what’s making that funny noi…KERBOOOOM!’

Have you ever tried casting on a sock by candlelight? It’s pretty unsuccessful, but it stops you thinking about disaster movies. Eventually dawn broke and I could blow out the candles. The emergency man turned up four hours later, he would have been useful if I had gone KERBOOOM! He replaced an enormous fuse, and apologised for my trouble. I wish I could get my fuse replaced, I have completely fizzled out…

Glittering Prizes

I have been selected for not one, but two  blog awards by the exceptionally good-looking, talented and witty illustrator and writer, Thomas Taylor of That Elusive Line.  (Well I know, but if you are going to do nepotism you might as well go the whole hog)  Seriously though, thank you, Thomas, it’s a great start to the week.

Kreativ Blogger

This elevation does come with its own responsibilities though, which are as follows,

1. Copy and paste the pretty picture which you see above onto your own blog.

2. Thank the person who gave you the award and post a link to their blog.

3. Write 7 things about yourself we do not know.

4. Choose 7 other bloggers to award.

5. Link to those 7 other bloggers.

6. Notify your 7 bloggers.

Firstly though, I have to spill the beans, so here goes…

  1. The real me is actually just like Donna in’ Mamma Mia’, I just keep it well hidden.
  2. I have an ironing pile the size of a small Alp, but I’d much rather iron and fold pieces of patchwork fabric.(and then arrange them in colour co-ordinated piles and photograph them)
  3. I waste far too much time playing ‘Bejewelled’ on FaceBook.
  4. I am a closet Trekkie.  Star Trek –The Next Generation for me, and Jean Luc Picard is mine, all mine.
  5. In an ideal world I would have a room full of shoes, ‘Sex in the City shoes’, the higher the better.  (In this world I have duff knees and wear Crocs and Fitflops)
  6. I read diet books while eating chocolate digestives.
  7. I fight a daily battle against procrastination (and invariably lose)

After much deliberation I would like to give my seven awards (in no particular order) to:

Celia at Purple Podded Peas – talented print maker and gardener, with furry studio assistants and feathered under-gardeners.

Vanessa at Do You Mind if I Knit – colourful and chatty, nice with a cup of tea

Gina at Fan My Flame – Textile artist working on Art degree, a similar direction to the one I’ve taken

Geraldine and Jessamy at Smitonius and Sonata – Mother and daughter collaboration, on my wave length.

Lucy at Attic 24 – for a colour infusion

Teena at Kitschen Pink Was my very first ‘commenter’ when I had just dipped my toe in the water.  Teena’s colourful blog inspired me to continue.

Jane at Jane and the ducks – a little taste of ‘French chic’


These are the rules for the Superior Scribbler Award:

1.Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2.Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3.Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4.Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

5.Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Rachel at Slow Lane Life – witty and amusing writing, lovely photos

Warda at 64sq ft Kitchen – beautiful evocative writing and delicious recipes

Tania at Myrtle and Eunice – Family life and Stitching in Australia

Knitting Iris – Knitting, Stitching and self sufficiency in Montana,  Beautiful photos

Kate at Greedy for Colour Crafting in New Zealand

This was all quite daunting when I started trying to sort it all out.  (Thomas cheated- I thought he was better brought up than that! but it did mean I got two awards so I can’t complain)  For me it’s actually been a good way to say thank you to these nominated bloggers for adding an extra dimension to my days, and aiding that procrastination habit!

Reasons to be cheerful…

Funny how just a little thing can change how you view the day…Getting out in the garden in dressing gown and slippers with the puppy BEFORE the rain starts is always a good start. Higgins hasn’t got the hang of the fact that the more times you make a run for the door without doing what you came out for just prolongs the agony.  He is struggling with country life really, too much weather, he should have gone to live with Paris Hilton. 

Todays mail was very exciting… firstly, red polka dot cake tins…

So good, I had to do styling…

…and my Spoonflower fabric…

When I first discovered Spoonflower I was too intrigued to go away and come up with a new design, I went for the nearest jpg file, my faithful pink sheep, and like it so much I ordered a fat quarter as a test run. My pink sheep started life on an invitation designed by my son Thomas Taylor for my Graduation party four years ago and was originally wearing  a mortar board. I loved her too much to send her off to oblivion, so with the help of Photoshop she hung up her mortar board and joined me here on Planet Penny. I’ve offered to make Thomas a pink sheep bow tie, but strangely, he’s declined…

I was so excited by all this I initially overlooked the fact that my latest copy of ‘Selvedge’ had arrived…Oh. Joy!..

…with this beautiful image on a card inside.

After a wet morning, a band of blue started to spread from the west, and the wind became a breeze, just right for a spot of exercise.  I’ve tried to get round the short dog = cold wet tummy problem with a rather smart fleece jumper for Higgins.  Apart from the fact that I could have bought myself two fleeces for the cost of a tailor-made miniature dachshund one,  getting it on is a bit like putting  skin on a sausage. Then you have the problem of persuading him to get out of bed…

We got out there eventually though…

Even the sugar beet looks good in the sunshine, and you can just see home across the field…

All that was left was to make a cake to justify the fact I had bought not just one, but three tins to put cake in.  I had some windfall apples, so a quick flip around Google and…Easy Apple Cake? …yes, we like easy.   Well, it was easy enough to put together, but who has a 20cm x 30cm tin to hand?  And how would the capacity of a tin you haven’t got compare with the one you have got?  So, a round cake instead.  Fine.  But…how does that affect the cooking time?  Answer – a lot.  After the allotted 40 minutes a gorgeous crispy crust trembled above a completely liquid interior,  another twenty minutes, then ten and then another twenty five minutes before the ‘sod it’ moment when I got it out and decided that was IT.   

And it was.



Old Faithful R.I.P.

It’s sort of been one of those weeks.  There’s been a bit of this and a bit of that and all that tangly wool and the WEATHER …!  I had just got excited about some rather pretty shopping and thinking I had time to photograph it and write about it and my camera died.  I felt like I’d lost the use of an arm.  There are wordsmiths out there who write beautiful blog posts and paint their own word pictures, but I NEED to illustrate my ramblings.  First thing this morning I set off through the rain and wind to Norwich and the London Camera Exchange clutching my Fuji FinePix F650 with the lens well and truly jammed.  It’s been making a weird graunching grinding noise for weeks (months?) and I’ve been trying to ignore it.  Apparently the thingy has worked its way off the helix and the whatsits had worn (you can tell I know exactly what I’m talking about) and the price of repair was far more than a new camera… so that’s what I’ve got, a natty little Olympus FE-4000. 

So now I can write about my shopping expeditions last week with full colour illustrations.  I know I should be working hard to finish the hand dyed project, but when it got a little derailed last week it sent me off to socks.  Socks have been popular in the blogs I read lately, both Vanessa, of ‘Do you mind if I Knit’ and Jane Brocket have succumbed to the spotty lovelies to be found at Boden, but I have been indulging in the meditative appeal of sock knitting.  There is something about the smallness of the work, the little needles feel like extensions of your fingers rather than separate tools, everything tucks into your encircling hands, and the whole thing can be popped into a pocket and taken on the bus, the doctors’ waiting room or even, if you are not actually turning the heel, to the cinema!  My only problem with socks is that you have to knit two the same, and I’m really bad about repeating myself.  I have got round that by having more than one pair on the go and alternating them, deliberately creating even more odd socks than my washing machine does!  The final reason for extolling the joys of sock knitting are the glorious colours in which the sock wool is dyed.  Sitting in the warm with a handful of Technicolour sunset is the perfect antidote to the wet darkness outside.

The  second shopping trip took us to Anglia Fashion Fabrics.  This is the place to go in Norwich for everything you could possibly need for sewing and making, and now it has opened a second venue called Make Place offering tuition for complete novices to learn how to sew, which is a brilliant idea.  On this particular day there was also a MakePlace Market with stalls selling beautiful  bags and clothing made from recycled items, felt hats and scarves, jewelry, al sorts of yummy things, but alas, no camera!  Having been inspired by this, it was essential to go next door and check out the actual shop where I succumbed to this..

polka dots

because I’m having a bit of thing for polka dots, especially red and white ones…this..


Because no-one who sews can possibly turn down the chance to have a fabric called ‘Stash’ …and this..

Well…you can see why.  There are dachshunds, how could I resist?  I think this will probably end up being a bag to keep all his stuff in.  For a small dog he does have a lot of stuff!

So I think the time has come to step away from the laptop and start being creative, so I’ve got something to tell you about later in the week!

The Sheep Dog

I suppose when you’re only pocket size…

A whole herd of sheep…

…is a bit of an undertaking.  So much better to wait until they have been reduced to a managable size…

and then round them all up.

Normal service will be resumed…eventually …