Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Week of the Busy Kind

Well here we are, the end of another half term week. Peace shall be restored tomorrow! We've managed to pack quite a lot into the week. After our trip to Frome on Monday, the Munchkin and I were feeling inspired so after a very late night spent googling anything and everything to do with papier mache, Wednesday afternoon saw us getting downright sticky and messy!

I surprised myself with how much I liked doing this. It was strangely relaxing and therapeutic. I didn't even let the mess bother me (too much)! I'm not saying we have made anything particularly recognisable but we enjoyed ourselves and tried something new. Our creations are not finished yet, of course. If you have children, I highly recommend giving this a go with them. After all, entertainment doesn't get much cheaper than flour, salt and water (to make the glue) and some shredded up paper, does it?

There was a trip into the Old Smoke which just happened to take in Cath K, looking particularly pretty with all the new ranges.

Everywhere it seems, there are finally beautiful and seasonal flowers to buy relatively cheaply.

Back at home, things have been a-changin'!

We've decided to give over a guest room which rarely gets used to a playroom for the Munchkin. This has nothing to do with getting his Hornby off my quilting table, of course. As such, it was time for the ladder bed to go so that the beds from the guest room could move into Munchkin's room, making way in there for all his toys (junk).

Oh happy days. Now there are two beds in the Munchkin's room (did someone say "sleepover"? Aaarrrrgghhhh!), it became blindingly clear that one had a patchwork quilt and the other most definitely needed one. Well I'm just the girl!

The sun is miraculously shining today so out into the garden we go for the "Yee Ha, Friendship Star" quilt ta-dahhhhh! Someone else is enjoying the sunshine, he's escaped from the open window in my Den onto the roof. Bad kitty!

So here it is.

The blocks are made of a design called "friendship star" which is very easy to execute, basically made up of squares and half square triangles.

I decided to add sashing and posts and a blue dotty binding.

It looks delightfully vintagey and crumpled already as a bad accident with red wine whilst sitting on the sofa sewing the binding meant it had to go straight in the washer. Thankfully, it is relatively unmarked. The backing is cosy white flannel and the quilting is simple, quarter inch lines in the sashing.

It looks a treat on the Munchkin's "spare bed".

Now, it's time for a girly, pretty project! I'm thinking Liberty...

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Fabulous Frome

On Monday, headed back East to London, we stopped off in Frome. We expected that quite a lot of shops would be shut on a Monday - and they were! No matter though, despite the grim and gloomy weather, we enjoyed our first visit to this charming town. This is the famed Catherine Hill where all the little individual shops are. A welcome relief from the modern high street. It was not looking its best on Monday!

(All photos courtesy of 'phone, as I forgot the camera - duh!)

There are quite a few shops selling vintage items, this one looked splendid with two vintage 1940's dresses in the window. The shop front itself is quite superb and a rare sight these days.

Just to confirm this shop's credentials, what do we see but stunning hats by the very talented Clare of Daisy Darling! Indeed, it was Clare's last post which made us think of making a little detour to Frome (thank you!)

At the top of the hill, I rather liked the look of this very minxy shop, sadly closed too! Well, there's nothing like a little tease, we'll just have to return!

Off then to somewhere which I had checked was to be open, the Black Swan Arts Gallery. First off, we had a fantastic lunch here of delicious homemade food. On a detour from the loos, I could not resist the shop! This is probably the best gift shop at a gallery/museum type place that I have seen. I mean, it had things you would actually want to buy! Stunning creations from some very talented crafts people.

Including these. I know some of you will instantly recognise this work.

Upstairs then into the gallery space to see the "Smile" exhibition. It certainly put one on the Munchkin's face. I was so pleased to see that he enjoyed it, I had wondered if it was going to be "his sort of thing". Several of the displays were interactive which he liked. It impressed me that it was permissible for the children to touch the displays. I think children do know how to behave themselves around things which they perceive are special.

He was the only one who thought to open the little door in the middle of this (fetching) vintage table; he was rewarded by some "borrowers" type creatures inside!

More had taken over this (once lovely) chair!

It was all I could do, meanwhile, not to rush straight to the far end of the gallery. There was the display of work by a woman whom I've been quite fascinated by for some time...

Have you heard of Julie Arkell?

She is a folk artist who works with papier mache to create these fantastic creatures. I most love her fabulous attention to detail; look at those vintage fabrics, little trims and brooches, those embroidered words.

Julie doesn't have a website of her own but you only need to Google her to find a wealth of wonderful photos and blog entries of those lucky enough to have attended one of her workshops (that shall be me later in the year!) Get yourself a cuppa and a slice of cake before you start and prepare to while away a few (oh so pleasurable) hours...

I have a very strong urge to make little embroidered pinnys!

You've got to love Stanley!

Although he seems to have upset these ladies!

Not forgetting the two aunts. These reminded me of me and my sister!

On the far wall, there were many papier mache frames displayed, with photos of Julie's creations inside. Julie was inspired to create these by a book she found (I think it had belonged to her aunt), in which pages had been stuck together and then apertures cut out.

I liked this framed picture. My favourite papier mache doll had been sold though.

A book has been published about Julie entitled "Home" which is well worth a read. It can be tricky to get hold of but the Black Swan Gallery has copies in its shop at £12 (you will likely pay much more than this online, as I did!)

There was also a very interesting article about Julie in Selvedge magazine a few years ago (although I only picked this up as a back issue at the International Festival of Quilts because the article caught my eye). Julie apparently lives in a family home in Islington and uses her staircase to display her collection of belongings.

I must just show you a few snaps from "Home" of Julie's studio. Now you know, she is a woman after my own heart!

Do visit the exhibition if you get the chance, it is wonderful (entry is by donation) and is travelling the country so look out for it near you if you cannot make it to Frome.

The Munchkin and I are now feeling truly inspired this half term and it's fair to say, we hope to have some crafty creations of our own to show you. (Yikes!) However, if you would like to see some more really fantastic papier mache creations, you should look at the very talented Vanessa's beautiful blog.

Furry Friend Love


Friday, 18 February 2011

A Bit of Bunting

Sewing tends to be a solitary affair for me, something to keep me out of mischief when the boys are out of the house during the day . As a rule, I don't usually do a lot of sewing when we are at our cottage on weekends and holidays either. I had consciously chosen not to take my machine to the cottage in order that I had a break from the full-on sewing of the week. However, my search for a new machine last year, left me with my little Bernina surplus to requirements and it has sat in my Den shoved in the corner, lonely and unloved. I was going to sell it but was finding it hard to part with.

Digressing entirely, in the kitchen at the cottage, there are a lot of windows. This is most unlike the rest of the cottage where the windows are very small (the cottage dating to around 1500-1550) and is because the kitchen occupies a modern extension to the rear. I'm always a bit unsure what to do with windows in kitchens, how to dress them, that is. I don't myself feel curtains are particularly necessary or maybe even sensible as everything gets a tad grimy from cooking. That said, I know they can look lovely (and can be washed!) I thought to have curtains in the kitchen at the cottage would be "too much" though, in terms of look because of the amount of windows, and indeed maintenance (no washing machine by choice). However, for some time, I haven't wanted them to be completely bare, either.

The West Country is renowned for its gloomy and rainy Winters. It can of course, be beautiful, cold, clear and bright but it can also be a bit miserable at this time of year, New Year stood out as a particularly dismal spell. What to do when it's cold and rainy outside? The answer lies in sewing indoors! And so, in my very round-a-bout way, I am telling you that the last time we stayed at the cottage, Bernie the Bernina came too. Of course, I have not the luxury of my marvellous Den at the cottage but there is always the dining room, no hardship to be surrounded by all our pretty things in there, it has to be said.

I pondered that the answer to the window dressing in the kitchen problem could be bunting. Now I am a little torn when it comes to bunting. On the one hand, I can't help feeling it's become perhaps a bit predictable and overdone. On the other hand, I can't deny the fact that I really do like it! I'm not one of those people that has to be "different"; to me, I like what I like, if the rest of the world is doing it too, I don't mind. Bunting it is then!

I just happened to have rather a delectable stash of 1930's reproduction cottons in gorgeous colours which I thought would be just the ticket. So I organised myself in the Den, cut out all the flags, including a few "seen better days" vintage embroidered cloths, and packed up anything else I might need. At the cottage the next day, I got out the cute little wooden ironing board miraculously left behind by the last (unpleasant) owner, set up Bernie and off we went.

Oh happy days! Why did I not do this before? The boys were quite happy doing their own things and didn't mind me sewing, which I suppose is always my worry when we are all together, that we must do family things which doesn't involve me sewing. Just not constantly, I guess!

As a temporary thing, I can definitely be happy sewing here!

Not long after, the bunting was finished and up it went.

I sort of felt like a party should be going on and I should be serving up jelly and blancmange! No bad thing, might I add.

It's a lovely cheery space, our little kitchen.

And just because... I couldn't resist a gratuitous shot of my Carlton Ware!

On my thrifty moochings, I picked up this milk basket thingy for £1 (my brain denies me the proper word for it!) I cannot explain why, but I have long hankered after one of these. Actually, I think it's the nostalgia of days gone by; there's something so much more attractive about fresh milk delivered by the float each day, in its glass bottles with shiny metallic tops, don't you think? So much the better if the birds have pecked through the top to get to the creamy top of the milk.

So here we are, another Friday, the end of another week in February (thank goodness) and time for us to head off for a while, it's half term next week. I'm hoping the next few days will see me spending quite a lot of relaxing time here...

... and maybe a spot of dining room sewing, of course!

May you find time to relax (and sew?) this weekend too!