Friday, 28 August 2009

All Sorts!

Oh golly, I don't know whether I'm coming or going today! I'm surrounded by boxes, teacups, fabric! Not such bad things to be surrounded by, I know. We're shortly off for a little break so of course, there's lots to get ready too. I've been up to all sorts this week.

Washing the fabrics I bought at the Festival of Quilts. Some inside whilst it's been raining...

Some outside when it's not been raining...

Making chutney to use up the Summer's gluts...

Making lemon curd because it's shortly the village gardening/produce show and I want to show willing and join in. Last year, my lemon curd wasn't placed at all. I like it very lemony and sharp and I guess those old lady judges do not! But I like to take part and support these important village customs lest they disappear.

I've eaten a load just by naughtily dipping my finger in!

Making fruit cake...

Eating fruit cake...

Making "jelly fluff"...

Ah well, at least I needn't worry about the washing up. I bet you all remember doing that when you were little, I know I do, licking the spoon was the best bit!

Every day, there are tomatoes of all shapes and sizes to pick...

My "big boy" is ripening nicely. Sadly, his friend next to him looks like he's burst his seams!

There are flowers, just supermarket flowers but quite pretty and cheerful all the same...

The flower show outside on the patio is better! The lily bulbs I bought at this year's Chelsea Flower Show are finally flowering.

They are gigantic. I was going to do something clever like putting something recognisable next to them so you could see how big they are but errrm, I didn't so please might you use your imagination?

Thank you kindly.

Indoors, the Munchkin appeared in my den with this little lot and declared that Jacky-Ginge had "had a baby". How reassuring to know he hasn't yet worked out that a) being a boy, b) having had "the chop", Jacky-Ginge is not likely to have fathered anything!

I thought I might sew something. Maybe I won't then. No, of course this is not my den at all.

So I made some teacup candles. Thank you for your very positive response to the candles. I have now made another batch. These are the last teacups I have for the moment so I shall have to get scouting about over the next few weeks. They are here for now if you fancy a look. There's such a wonderful variety of teacups and saucers out there, all prettier than their modern counterparts, don't you think? I think you do!

This one is staying with me because I love it!

I'd be lying if I said there had been no sewing at all. Once I had managed to oust the furry friends, I made a few rather pretty round cushions, using some of the lovely vintage embroidered panels I've collected partnered with some of Cath K's finest.

Fancy giving one a home? They're here for you.

There have also been a few owls in the offing but they're still waiting their feet! I've made a few with more "boyish" colour schemes. Yes, it's true, I've broken away from flowers (but I made up for it with the cushions)!

Well, my friends, have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, won't you. We have one last week now before the small person heads back to school. Much grumbling going on about that from his corner, a sort of relief from mine! Please forgive me if I am uncontactable for a while as we enjoy the last of the Summer hols. I shall be raring to go in a week or so so if you have placed any orders or left me any comments, I'll be getting onto those as soon as I am back!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

UP North

Yes, that's where the HenHouse gang ventured for the weekend, in particular to stay with my parents in my hometown...

I left home at 18 to go to university and never went back really, except for visits, of course. Now that we have the cottage, a lot of our weekends are taken up staying there (no complaint!) which does tend to mean we don't get to visit anywhere else particularly frequently. I seem to have fallen into a pattern of only getting back "home" once a year. Better make the most of it then!

So, off we went for a weekend of pampering and laziness at my parents' hands! Cheshire really is a beautiful county, the countryside is stunning and my Dad, having lived there all his life, is the ultimate tour guide, even if he does do his best to seek out every tiny, bumpy, windy lane going!

We ended up in Malpas which is where my paternal grandfather used to live. I haven't visited his cottage since he died 11 years ago so it was time to return. The view from his cottage, converted from stables long since, is lovely, all rolling countryside...

A very handsome kitty is now in residence, called Timmy, who enjoys his very own "jungle" in the garden which is where I remember all the workshops once being.

We were so close to Cheshire Ice Cream Farms that it would have been rude not to drop in! They have gazillions of flavours of delicious ice cream made from the milk from the cows on the farm. We won't go into how many flavours Mr HH managed to put away.

Of course, few of the trips we make fail to take in a bit of the steamy stuff...

I've long loved the little town of Llangollen in North Wales and it is now an added bonus for the boys that it has a very lovely steam railway.

Whilst mooching round the town, we spotted this rather cute caravan!

Travelling along the line to Carrog, we had fun trying to pronounce the rather challenging Welsh place names!

Mr HH headed straight for the railway shop in an attempt to add to his vast railway library whilst I enjoyed the sights on the platform. It always amazes me how beautifully kept these old stations on the preserved steam railways are - in strict comparison with the rather dismal railway stations we are presented with today which have a few plastic flowers in a hanging basket if you are lucky.

Into Chester for a final look round on Monday, mum took me to this new (to me) shop. Golly, what made her think I would be interested in "The Vintage Shop"?!

I loved the tea trolley in the window laden with some gorgeous flowery blue cups and saucers...

We strolled back from town along the canal (the Shropshire Union Canal), much better than walking along the busy roadside.

One member of the party was particularly delighted, especially when some very kind ladies passing by shared their bread supply with him so that he in turn, could feed these feathered friends. People are so lovely to children, I want to be a child again!

We had a lovely few days and recharged the old batteries. For some, it proved a bit more tiring!

Yes, Marty the Meerkat came too!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Bits 'n' Bobs

Hello my friends, everyone had a good weekend, I hope? We're just recovering from arriving back in London very late last night (and more to the point, I'm recovering from looking after a demanding 7 year old once more)!

Thank you for your kind words following on from the post about the Quilt Festival. At Vanessa's request, I've dug out all the various cards and receipts I collected on the day and I have edited the post with as many links as I can find to the suppliers from whom I bought. So, if you had your eye on a particular fabric, you may be able to track it down. Credit cards at the ready!

A bit more housekeeping. I've finally managed to load my pretty teacup candles into my blog shop.

They are made in genuine vintage teacups, many with matching saucers, with a delicious fresh rose fragrance. I have several burning at home (perk of the job!) and after 12 hours of burning, there's at least half of the wax left. The wax I now use is specially for container candles and is made as a by-product of petrol so you needn't feel bad about buying them as you are not damaging the planet any further. The teacups can easily be washed with soap and hot water of any bit of wax left once the candle has burned and be used for your daily cuppa of choice. I think they are very competitively priced as I recently saw them featured in an interiors magazine for £22 each. Find them here should you choose.

I've managed to finish a few covered hangers which I've had on the go for a while, slow coach that I am (well, actually it's because I started doing lots of other things in between!) They have really pretty fabrics and gorgeous vintage lace along with velvet ribbons and flowers crocheted in the finest, softest yarns (angora and pure new wool). They are currently hanging out (sorry, that was a very bad pun!) here. They are refusing to be photographed very well today, my apologies for that!

I also placed the two pretty patchworked and linen bags in my Etsy store as I still have some fabric left to make some more for the Fair. I've decided it's ages away and I have plenty of time (famous last words!)

Phew, that's my sales plug for today over!

More making now... I thought you might like to see an apron I made recently for a blogging friend who has a little penchant for aprons. It was a bit of an experiment and amalgamated the ideas in Anna Maria Horner's book "Seams to Me" (link in the sidebar) for both the "Full Contact" and "Cup Half Full" aprons, along with a bit of "winging it" my way!

There is an even better photo on Vanessa's blog as she is a talented lady with the camera and styling (and lots of other things!)

I hope to be back tomorrow with tales of the weekend. Cheerio for now...

Friday, 21 August 2009

Festival of Quilts

What a day I had yesterday, bloggers! If you've been reading my blog for a while, well a whole year (thank you very much indeed!), you may recall that last August I went up to the Birmingham NEC to the "International Festival of Quilts". A marvellous affair it was too. So, I thought I'd better go again this year!

Yesterday was the first day of the festival which is on until (including) Sunday. Upon arrival, it was looking very busy...

The major sewing machine companies all have their own stands where they want to flog you their wares but also run classes to teach you lots of clever stitchy skills. Scary looking machines, those ones!

Now I have to confess that initially I bypassed the quilt displays and headed straight for the shopping! There is row upon row of stalls selling all manner of sewing related items, be they sewing machines, gadgets, fabric; you name it, it's there! One of my first stops was at the Selvedge stand, I took this one for you, Vanessa. Selvedge, if you do not know, is a posh and trendy textiles art magazine here in the UK. They promote the best craftspeople and also sell the fruits of their productivity, some of which they had upon display.

The Festival of Quilts is not just about quilting, you know. Many other crafts are also represented, in the form of information about them and courses to go on along with stands displaying their skills. I loved this one about rag rugging.

Lesley, this stall was calling to you! Ribbons galore and the more you bought, the cheaper they became! This sort of shopping I like! (They have a website at

I am always eager to visit the Cotton Patch stand and this year, it was bigger than ever, two glorious, gigantic corner stands, one full of fabrics, the other full of haberdashery and notions. Aaaarrrggghhh! Where to start?! The stalls always look lovely too, with many patchwork quilts, bags and cushions which they have made on display. Inspiration indeed.

Kaffe was there to sign copies of his new book but seemed more interested in his knitting! The lady in turquoise is doing her best to attract his attention!

Amy Butler was also there (though not at this precise moment) and her table looked lovely; she always brings lots of pretty things made from her patterns in her own fabrics. Drooool...

The choice of fabrics was very good. I know you lucky lot in America are fortunately spoiled with your fabulous fabric stores but this is a lot of fabric in one place for the UK which is a bit behind in that respect.

Of course, I didn't only shop. I mean, there was only so much I could carry! But seriously, I did take a good amount of time also to wander and admire the many stunning quilts on display. The skill involved in these is utterly awe inspiring. Even if they're not always your "cup of tea" design/style wise, you can appreciate the dedication and skill that has gone into making them.

Actually, this one was on the Cotton Patch stall, who tend to make Kaffe Fasset quilts which are very much my cup of tea!

Onto the displays of the competitors. Some were quite traditional...

Or they featured... Dr Who, of course!

Some were heavily appliqued as well as quilted. I thought this one was lovely.

This was a prize winner. Golly, I cannot begin to think how many hours that must have taken.

Detail of some stunning poppies...

This one was not quilted on top but the patchworking was lovely, such gorgeous colours.

Ah, but this one was my favourite, because here, the maker had done what I've been hankering after doing for a while, which is to use sections of vintage embroidered cloths in a patchwork quilt. It was also based on tea and cakes, what could be better!

Did you buy anything, I hear you cry? The short answer to that can only be yes! There are many book stalls at the festival which are fantastic because they only sell artsy crafty books. Heaven. I decided it was time I started to quilt in earnest. The Selvedge mags were a good offer at £5 for a back copy (usually £8.50). The books were purchased from "Sew Good Books"' stall.

I also tracked down some of those elusive notions which are usually so hard to find... (Mainly from The Cotton Patch.)

A few unusual buttons, including some Christmas ones. Did someone mention Christmas? Oh no!

And of course, a bit of fabric...

Well, it is my main fabric buying opportunity of the year!

Pretty flannelettes to make seriously funky owls! These were purchased from "The Little Lavender Patch". They are based in East Kent.

Gorgeous reproduction 1930's cottons, my favourite fabrics at the moment. Purchased from the wide selection at Sew and So's stall, they are based in Bungay, Suffolk. Some were from American Quilt Store.

More retro fabric, a new range. These were purchased from Creative Quilting based in East Molesey, Surrey.

A bit of Kaffe and Amy. Purchased from Dungarees and Daisies.

Flowery stuff. (The three fabrics on the right were also from Dungarees and Daisies, link above, from the remnant bin at £1 per FQ.)

Errrm, more flowery stuff. The first six fabrics (counting from the left) came as a set, six FQs for £6.90 from a shop called Crafts and Quilts which is based in Southport. The last 2 flowery fabrics were £1 remnants from the Little Lavender Patch (link above).

Some beautiful American feedsack pieces. (I was told that these were used to make chicken feed sacks around the Depression era. The ladies would then use them to make quilts and clothes. Anybody out there with more info, please do feel free to impart it my way.)

Of course, I didn't forget the boys, so selfless... (This was from Sew and So's stall, link above.)

The best bit was getting home last night, flopping down on the rug in the sitting room and unpacking my trolley bag all around me and having a good play with my goodies. Mr HH wryly remarked that this book was clearly written with me in mind...

Cheeky! Happy weekend, everyone. Sorry this post is a bit lacking in details/links and all that jazz but I have a serious matter to attend to, I'm off to retrieve my Munchkin!