Thursday, 28 April 2011

No Problem Mon!

Well hello readers, hello hello hello! I hope this post finds you all tickety boo. Here we are anyway, returned relaxed and rested from a lovely and indulgent two week stay in the tropics. Somewhere we heard "no problem mon" many, many times: The island of Jamaica. It's quite hard to believe that only a day or so ago, we were lazing here, on the seven mile beach of Negril...

Hmm, no hardship! We spent very little time in the hotel, as you may imagine with a beach like that to frolic on, but the little cottages were very cute. I don't think Farrow & Ball has hit Jamiaca (thank goodness).

Sadly, having taken one photo of the Munchkin en route to the airport, we discovered in Jamaica that our camera had broken so we were left taking snaps with our 'phones. Drat! But in the Caribbean, you have no choice but to lay back and take it all in your easy stride.

I cannot say that this was a particularly active or adventurous holiday but it really wasn't intended to be! It got about as active as a few games of cricket on the beach. The West Indians being nuts for cricket, the boys had many locals joining in with them. Sadly, the locals were pretty darned good!

The tours were sadly well over-priced but we wanted to do something to see some of Jamaica other than the beach, so we just went on the one day tour, the other thirteen days were pure laziness. Rum tour it is then!

Although freely tasting the thirteen different rums was pretty great, I was most enamoured with Paz the donkey. He demonstrated how donkeys were used to power the mechanical press to extract the juice from the sugar cane with which to make the rum. He got to eat the sugar cane afterwards, I can only imagine what his poor teeth must be like but he was very happy!

We also took a boat ride down the "Black River"and saw many scary crocs. They were hand fed chicken pieces from the side of the boat. Aaarrrggghhh!!!

Afterwards, we visited the YS Falls (we were miles away from the more well known falls at Ocho Rios). It was really lovely here. We had a guide who walked us up the side of the falls and showed us where we could get in and swim. It was jolly cold but really clean and refreshing.

How could you visit Jamaica without mention of Bob Marley? And as you might imagine, he was everywhere! His music was played pretty much constantly everywhere you went and there was the predictable range of tacky souvenirs. I don't think we'll be listening to Bob for a while!

However, we did enjoy the many reggae bands who played during the evenings at the hotel. Yes, they did play some Bob Marley but it didn't seem too bad with the aid of a few rum punches!

Ah, what a lovely few weeks of warm sunshine and chilling out. But all good things must come to an end...

And I must say, it's great to be home! I did have a little crafty project on the go whilst I was away which I'll share with you soon.

I'm also doing my best to load up some lovely handmade items for sale in my Etsy shop which I didn't have time to do after the V&H Fair and before we went away. There are quilts and bunny teds though I am waiting sunshine for dolly quilts, cushions and so on. I'm also doing my best to have a bit of a "rationalisation" (not my strong point!) so there are also many bags and other bits on sale at really good discounts while they last.

Monday, 11 April 2011

A Grand Day Out

That's the only way to describe the Vintage and Handmade Fair which took place last Saturday. I managed a quick wander round the beautiful stalls before the doors opened and took a few snaps. Sadly, I didn't manage to take photos of all the stalls but here's a taster for the ones I did...

Michele of Cowboys and Custard fame had her customarily cute and cheeky collection of vintage furry friends. I particularly loved this one...

Sal of Sal's Snippets, one of my few fave fabric sellers, had a stunning array of vintage fabrics. Oh dear, danger alert for me! The HenHouse gang gets on famously with Mr and Mrs Snippets and we had a good catch up.

Aaarrgghh, I see eidys! My cats would have loved to settle down in this scrumptious pile belonging to Jo of Hesta Nesta. Come to think of it, so would I!

Opposite, Tracy of The Vintage Bothy, had some beautiful textiles including this stunning vintage embroidered cushion.

I couldn't leave out Ms Donna Flower, with her divine vintage fabrics stowed in this lovely vintage drawer set. I could have swooped the lot. Restraint was called for...

Loved the colours on this stall of lovely vintage goodies and bought a beautiful teapot from here. Wish I could remember the name - do prompt me if you're reading!

This stall could only belong to Daniella of Acorn and Will who does a mean line in beautiful vintage fabric cushions. The colours here are also sublime.

Clare, of Daisy Darling, you might know better for her lovely handmade cloche hats, but I was very taken with these lovely vintage patchwork pieces.

Jane of Jane and the Happy Crow had a gorgeous selection of vintage boats and children's toys amongst other things. I fell in love with that cute little black chappy in the deckchair...

And finally, the pink stall. Thanks to you all who stopped by and said hello, maybe even took a bit of HenHouse goodness home. It was a pleasure to meet so many lovely folk, the day passed by in an instant and was a joy from start to finish.

Please visit the Vintage and Handmade Fair blog for links to all the wonderful sellers mentioned here (and many more) who were present at the Fair.

As always, many thanks to the sterling duo of Michele and Jayne, (of Country Cottage Chic), the brains and organisation behind this Fair. Thank you ladies, roll on December!

Now my friends, I must love you and leave you for a while to recharge the old batteries. Have a good Easter and don't go too mad with the choccy eggs now, will you?

Friday, 8 April 2011

Sherbet Strips

Surprisingly, I'm all packed up and ready to go, to the Fair that is! As promised, I've managed to take a few snaps of my latest quilt to share with you and for me to remember it by.

This is what is termed a "string" quilt and you probably don't need me to explain why!

The way of making this sort of quilt is a little unusual though, in that it employs a technique called "foundation piecing". Each block is sewn onto a piece of paper, just regular copy paper in my case. Starting in the middle of the block, each strip of fabric is sewn right sides facing to the next, it's then flipped over and ironed back, you then keep on adding more strips until your "foundation" is covered. Once the block is finished, you remove the paper (a yawn-worthy task if ever there was one!)

It is a very enjoyable technique though. I sat with a big basket of strips next to me, which I've accumulated over time, and picked each one as I went, deciding on the spot which colours and patterns to put next to each other. Once I had made twenty-four blocks, I arranged them in a pleasing pattern, sewed them together and hey presto, there was one pretty fine quilt top! It's a nice size, about 38" x 56", perfect for a lap quilt or throw but also big enough for the foot of the bed.

The colours and fabrics are similar to those used in my favourite Spangled Spiderweb Quilt; quite a few Kaffe Fassett designs with their fabulous patterns and luminous colours, along with plenty of 1930's reproduction cottons and any other bits 'n' bobs which I felt suited the quilt.

I have backed it with a vintage white and ditsy blue floral cotton and used a fabulous Kaffe Fassett art print for the binding which really works a treat. Wish I'd snapped up more of this before they discontinued it. The quilt was first quilted in the ditch then on the diagonal through the blocks, in the same direction as the strips. I felt any more quilting would be way over the top and detract from the design and fabrics. There's a little vintage embroidered linen name patch so that one day, whomever owns this quilt will know its provenance.

So there it is, one lovely quilt, all ready to go to a new home. Maybe! Thanks to all of you who kindly left messages yesterday and I am really looking forward to seeing some of you tomorrow.

Wishing everyone a sunny and fun-filled weekend!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Roll Up!

Back again, sorry for the little absence this past week but there has been much to do. You may have picked up on a few mentions in my last posts, that this weekend is a highlight of the vintage and indeed handmade devotees' calendar. This Saturday, that's right, 9 April already, is the day of the marvellous Vintage and Handmade Fair in the lovely South Gloucestershire town of Chipping Sodbury. If you've never been, you're missing out and you really should treat yourself to a visit; if you have been, I jolly well hope you're coming again! It's a bonanza of stalls manned by lovely chatty people with beautiful vintage and handmade goods of the very best variety on offer, not to mention the chance to sit down to homemade cake on vintage china.

The HenHouse sweatshop consisting of yours truly, has been working overtime recently and I have lots of lovely goodies to bring to my stall at the Fair, favourite designs and some new ones too. What about these little lads and lasses? Vintage woolly stuff in scrumptious hand dyed colours, vintage fabrics, hand embroidery, dinky felt flowers and filled with a touch of stuffing and some lovely lavender, the bunny teds are here!

Part bunny, part ted!

Primrose thought she'd make herself comfy with a miniature patchwork quilt but she's not too chuffed with the book for a pillow, even if it is Enid Blyton's finest bunny tale!

The quilt, well she had the choice of a few, actually. There are various sizes, perfect for a special little miss to keep dolly or teddy or owly (or whomever!) warm. They are made from pretty cotton squares, have cute ditsy flanelette backing, proper quilt batting inside and have been cross-quilted and finally hand bound, of course. These are the quilts I put in my re-vamped vintage dolls' cribs (I also have one of those beauties coming to the Fair). I love making them so I thought I'd offer them for sale separately, too, ideal if the little lady already has a pram or crib or has been saving her pocket money hard.

For a pillow, Minty is not daft and has helped herself to a mini lavender pillow from the basket full of them. There are blue ones, red ones, purple ones, but she thinks this co-ordinates with her best. London is currently having a little April heatwave so she's foregone the quilt for now but admits, they'd be the ideal pair!

Well, it feels as if sunny days are finally here, dare I mention the Royal Wedding is looming, maybe you're lucky enough to be having a street party, or perhaps you're looking forward to getting out in the garden. Then you'll be needing some pretty cotton bunting...

Bags, yes I've also rustled up a few bags. Strips of Miss Cath K's finest cotton duck in the loveliest of prints, with pretty flowery linings, contrasting pockets and the finishing touch of a freeform removable flower brooch. Perfectly sized for magazines (I checked!)

Owls, there has to be a newly hatched parliament of sleepy owls. This time, they've been spruced up with the addition of gorgeous, soft corduroy prints. Cuddly!

Brooches, well you can never have too many brooches (at least that's what you'd think if you saw my overflowing dressing table).

And whilst the overworked sewing machine was having a rest, there was time for a bit of vintage-y papercraft. The ever pretty and useful gift tags...

...and gorgeous glamorous ladies cards.

It goes without saying that there's also a mighty fine selection of patchworked cushions, vintage china cake stands and tea cups and probably lots of things my tired brain has forgotten! Last but not least there's also this, my pride and joy of the last week or so...

By the time I was taking these shots, it was nigh on 7 o'clock tonight and the light wasn't doing justice to this really rather fabulous quilt. So, I'm going to hope for some more snaps in the daylight tomorrow and show it you again sometime soon. Of course, if you're lucky enough to be coming to the Town Hall in Chipping Sodbury on Saturday, you'll see it for yourself!

Thank you readers, for indulging me in my post of handmade goodies. I have made quite a quantity of some items with the hope of also stocking my online shop but quite when that will happen, is anyone's guess. With school hols and Easter round the corner, my online shop will be shut from Monday until probably early May. Time for a rest - but first, Saturday! I hope to be back with a post-Fair report if time permits. If you are coming, as always, please do come and have a natter with me and my fabulous boys. We're in our usual spot, far right hand corner of the main hall. Toodle pip for now!