Something Pretty in the Post…

The trouble is with sitting here at the computer looking at my unfinished studio through the window  surrounded with boxes and things I can’t get at it is that it makes me very susceptible to gorgeous things that pop up on the internet.  Like an email from Cox and Cox…about their SALE…I mean, what’s a woman to do?  I’m very proud of the way I managed to buy so little…Look at THESE…

So cunningly packed too, with a little slot in the plastic to unreel the ribbons through so they don’t end up in a tangly heap.


…and while I was ooohing and aaahing about the clever little dispensing arrangement Tim pointed out the hanger on the back.  So Hard Luck, Higgins, I can hang it on the wall away from little dachshund teeth.  Perfect!

I also bought a badge making kit which could be fun.  The instructions look complicated but as it’s for 8+ I ought to be able to suss it out eventually…

…and –  just because – a little wooden dove…

The sun is shining this afternoon so I will save further ramblings for later posts, don fleece and wellies and get out into the garden.  Hope the sun shines for you this weekend…

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Marking Time…

This is what I feel I’m doing at the moment, marking time, waiting… Waiting for the spring, waiting for my studio to be build, waiting to climb out of the muddle of boxes that surround me in which I have packed all my materials so I can’t find anything… 

My sanity has been saved by having some wool and fleece  to hand so I have been needle felting pincushions.  As well as the two I made as prizes (which I got in the post this morning despite the snow and ice)…

I have made a couple more with a view to selling them when I get my Folksy shop up and running (another ‘Watch this Space’ moment!) It’s a comforting thing to do, needle felting.  It’s very tactile, it’s like magic feeling the change from soft fluffiness to springy firmness happening in your hand with just the action of the needle. And the colours are cheerful, just what we need with all this whiteness!

The sun shone yesterday and so Higgins and I managed to go out for a walk.  It really hasn’t been that easy in this weather.  Higgins is very much a fairweather walker, and any suggestion that we might go out in inclement conditions sends him scuttling behind a chair, or burrowing under his blanket, and I am easily persuaded not to bother myself!  However yesterday he was kitted out in his jacket and carried beyond the point of no return so he made the best of it.

I took the steam driven camera along and I’m getting such good results it makes me very frustrated with the Olympus (which is packed up to go back to the shop tomorrow)

As I sit here I am looking out at two very chilly chaps building the studio as the snow blows all around and into the cups of tea I have just taken out.  I suppose it concentrates the mind towards getting the roof on, I’m really glad I’m sitting in here at the computer!

The sky looks blue, it isn’t, it’s snowing!  I’m looking forward to showing this view in a few months when the sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom and there is a glass of something cool and delicious on the garden table!

A Wimwam for a Goose’s Bridle…

When ever I was rummaging through my Father’s toolbox and asking  ‘What’s that?’  too many times as a child my Father would tell me ‘That? It’s a wimwam for a goose’s bridle’ and, in the way of children I would go away quite happily, if a little confused.    I was quite grown up before I questioned the concept. (Actually, I am embarrassed when I look back at the number of things I accepted without question as a child AND I thought sprouts grew in tiny rows like fairy cabbages although why fairies would like such nasty bitter things…) But I digress.

A while ago I showed you a ‘thing’, a thing given to me by my crafty friend Kit, and made by her talented husband.  Because it was from Kit, I opened the present with my mind quite set on it being an amazing tool of some sort, a challenge.   So when I saw it, I knew at once it was a loom of some sort, for weaving amazing…things. And it was a challenge, because there were no instructions. There was a second part to the present too, eight reels of Nutscene jute in lovely colours, just what I needed to make the amazing things on my beautiful hand made loom.

So I sat for a while and I puzzled, and I couldn’t work out how to use my incredible hand made loom.  So while I was puzzling I photographed it, and blogged about it, and asked if anyone out there knew what it could be.  Then Kit came home and I phoned her and said ‘OK, I give up, what is it and how do I use it?’  After a baffled silence Kit said,’Do you really not know? Have you opened both parts?’ and I said ‘Yes, and the Jute string is lovely and the colours are beautiful and I know I can weave something lovely on my special loom but I don’t know how..’ 

And Kit said’ Oh dear I’m sorry, because you think I’ve been really clever and it’s just that I saw the Nutscene jute in the lovely colours and I knew you would like them and then I said to Bill it would nice to have something to put the reels on so he made a holder out of a nice piece of  walnut and I got the little scissors and the little brass thing at the end is a scissor holder…’

And I looked at it and thought,  ‘Of course,’  and if I had had a young person to hand they would have said ‘Duuur’.

So there is the answer to the question I posed a few posts ago, and I had a wonderful variety of answers so I was not alone in my puzzlement which made me feel somewhat better. I said there would be a prize, and in fact there are two, one for the correct answer and one for the answer that made me, and lot of other people laugh.  So without further ado, the winners are Emma, of Silverpebble who is the clever person who correctly guessed it was for storing yarn, and Hilary, who suggested it was a drying rack for Higgins’ welly boots, both sets, and I so wish it was true!

So Ladies, if you could email me your postal addresses I will send you both needle-felted pincushions made with hand dyed Merino and Blue-faced Leicester wool, heart-shaped appropriately for February and Valentines Day. My address is pennygjatgooglemail.com(replace the ‘at’ with@, I’m being spam conscious!)

(My Mother’s guess was that it was the wimwam for the proverbial goose’s bridle – she didn’t get a prize)

Too Many Cameras…

…and not enough photos.  The camera saga continues…sorry, I’m sure it will be resolved, just not sure if it will be this side of sanity.  I haven’t been able to get to Norwich to the camera shop so I’m still snarling at the Olympus.  In the meantime Tim, who is in the middle of the North Sea,  has bought me a second hand Fuji on Ebay.  We resolved the fact that it came without the Smart Card because I still had an old one from a past camera lurking in a drawer, complete with old photos I had forgotten about.  I have managed a few reasonable pictures this afternoon, and in doing so discovered that   the new old camera’s rechargable battery needs to be charged for six hours  to do 10 minutes photography.  Talk about swimming through treacle…

However, onwards and upwards.  This is what I thought was just what I wanted in 1995…

It was my first attempt at ‘Folk Art’ painting, a little desk which belonged to my grandfather and destined for the scrap heap.  It’s been in my studio and is crying out for something for something more ..er…restful …in the way of a paint job before it goes into the new studio.

And I have another doll. After I made the Fairy of Sensible Shoes I had to demonstrate how she was made to a class and so had another body tucked away in yet another box which surfaced in the clearout, naked and bald.  I spent a whole evening working on her hair.  I had some left over sock wool in brown, black and grey so I carefully cut all the grey sections out and painstakingly embedded each strand into her scalp with a felting needle. As I said, a whole evening.  How long for Higgins to do his own version of hairdressing?

Thirty seconds…

Some raging, tears and a good nights sleep later I tried again with a new head entirely, without rips, teethmarks and spit.  I abandoned the bandana and went for a miniature felt hat…

…with co-ordinating shoes…

I cheated with the socks, I now have a pair of gloves with the middle fingers missing!

Her little cardigan and bag are crocheted with Blue-faced Leicester wool left over from my hand dyed wool/scarf project, and the skirt is from the stash of fabrics accumulated during my recent ‘Polka Dot Period’ (any one can have a ‘Blue Period’), and here she is…

She sits on a VERY high shelf…

The Fairy of Sensible Shoes

Pink Tulips - because I need them!

Creativity has been a bit thin on the ground lately what with all the clearing out and packing that’s been going on.  However I have turned up one or two bits and pieces you might like to see, and I thought a couple of ‘before’ pictures might be good so we can all be amazed at the eventual transformations.

I’m hopeless at dates, and the years rush past so quickly I can’t be positive about how long I  had my  studio.  I was certainly using it  before I went off to art college as a mature student so it must be around ten years.  In that time the prevailing wind off the big field behind it  ripped the roofing felt off at least once, and the whole building comprising the studio and Tim’s adjoining shed  took on a drunken lean towards the house, making the doors ill-fitting and draughty.  As I progressed through college and got bigger ideas and more ‘stuff’ the studio got more and more full and eventually went from being a rather small studio to being a very big cupboard. 

You’re probably wondering where the Fairy comes in.  She turned up during the excavations – the pleistocene layer I believe – while sorting the studio.  About eighteen months ago I was staying with my mother while she recouperated from a knee operation, and the Fairy came into being when I was being creative with a limited supply of materials.

She started as a piece of embroidery, a short length of buff coloured linen and toning coton a broder thread, and grew from the need to give the embroidery a purpose. 

 Her body is calico, jointed with wooden beads and  her hair, Wendesleydale fleece. 

Her little socks were knitted with the remains of the lace weight Shetland wool with which my mother knitted a shawl for her first great grandchild.  And if you are going to wear socks, well, I’m afraid it’s Sensible Shoes.

As I usually work in colour it was a challenge  to use a  limited pallette and to forage for materials.  Now she’s going to preside over the kitchen while waiting for her new home to be built.  She’s already threatened me with several nasty spells if she ends up stuck in a scrap bag again and it’s far too cold for me to end up in a pond with a lot of other frogs.

All Stitched Up

Having confessed to having such a butterfly mind even making two matching socks challenges my boredom threshold you will not be surprised to hear that I have struggled to complete one of my latest projects.  I am comforted to know I am not alone in this lack of application, I recently heard someone confessing to never sewing up her knitted creations, she found sewing the knitted pieces together so boring she always got her mother to do it. I’m not that bad, although I have every sympathy with her.   This being said it was probably asking for trouble deciding to make a Sophie Digence inspired scarf from my basket of hand dyed wool.

I first saw these wonderful scarves in Selvedge magazine, a year or so later I saw them on the Selvedge stand at the Knit and Stitch Show and this Autumn one graced the pages of an issue of Country Living.  I was not alone in being inspired, Vanessa of Do You Mind if I Knit was not the only blogger to render their own interpretation.  Sophie Digence’s take is in the finest wool, dyed in wonderful jewel or landscape colours, tiny, tiny postage stamp sized pieces of delicate crochet.  One initial reaction when finding the price is ‘HOW MUCH!’ but it only takes a short time trying to duplicate such fine work to realise they are worth every penny

I did have a few Higgins generated setbacks but  over the last weeks I have soldiered on, crocheting the little squares leaving short tails of wool with which to sew each one to it’s neighbour, and finally it is finished.  It could possibly be wider, and  longer, but the next project calls and it is perfectly sized to keep me warm and happy when I wear it.  I will announce now that is unique, no other scarf will be made using those colours in that wool, it’s price is above rubies as there is no ruby large enough to induce me to ever make another one!

Life is too short…

Away in a Manger…

A while ago I mentioned the Crib and Wreath Festival at our local church, and the contribution the Knit and Stitch group were working on.  Last week we all gathered at the church to set up our pieces in readiness for the Festival.  At time like this you see anew the beauty of the typical English church and St Michael and All Angels at Barton Turf is very typical.  It is, of course, far to big for the parish it serves which now no longer has even a village shop, and so it functions under that peculiar regime of worship and fund-raising found up and down the country these days.

   Inside, the stalwart band of ladies essential to the running of any village affair mustered their troops.  How could anything function without these unpaid treasures who organise events, arrange flowers, polish pews,  run errands and generally oil the wheels of rural life?  Years of fundraising for St Michael’s has resulted in the recent installation of a loo and small kitchen, no mean feat to sympathetically integrate these modern necessities into the architecture of a 14th Century church, but it does allow it to function as a community centre, and give it a role which justifies its upkeep.  And means a plentiful supply of soup, rolls, tea and cake for visitors to its various displays, festivals and celebrations. (and coffee and biscuits when you turn up on a cold wet morning to set up your stand!)

I was really happy with the swags we had made for the font, a loose interpretation of the wreath idea which  meant that there were four pieces to be entered for the secret auction, and the rich colours looked beautiful against the pale old stone.  The Knit and Stitch Ladies had been really busy making small items for sale, knitted crackers, stockings and baubles, crochet snowflakes, gift bags, angels and hearts, and the whole display was topped off with an amazing knitted crib scene.  I apologise for the lack of photos at this point, I was over absorbed by the task in hand!

Yesterday afternoon I persuaded my mother out of her house to visit the festival.  Not easy these days now she is wheelchair bound and these things involve ramps and other people fussing.  She hates to feel she is a nuisance.   I’m so glad I did.  The weather was sunny, with a gentle breeze, the church was bright and warm and there were lots of people she knows but hardly sees these days.  She loved the exhibits and then, unexpectedly, there was a Navity Tableau put on by the local primary school.  Are you, like me, completely undone by a childrens Nativity play?  Our local rock star(well he would have been, given the right breaks) strummed carols softly on his guitar while his wife read the Christmas story as the children enacted it.  At the first sight of Joseph in his dressing gown, teatowel on head and glasses slightly crooked, alongside a diminutive Mary teaming traditional blue with Ugg boots, the pair of us welled up.  The shepherds tramped down from the hills in search of baby Jesus, who had been found with surprise under her chair by Mary, and quickly recovered for a cuddle.  As the shepherds reenacted their route from the hills by walking up and down the aisles (gently steered at the corners by a grownup when they looked as if they were heading off course) the smallest one happily swung his lamb backwards and forwards in the air.  Angel Gabriel looked stern, the star twinkled prettily as she led the Kings to the stable, the rock star played ‘Away in a Manger’ and Mother and I dabbed our eyes.

What nicer way to start the run up to Christmas?