Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Didn't we have a Luvverly Time

...the day we went to Eridge Park, and precisely, to the Decorative Living Fair.  Organised by Caroline Zoob and friend, I haven't been to this fair for a few years, largely due to the fact that the weather has been so awful and wet.  As Master Munchkin was away on a school trip all last week, I found myself with time and most importantly, sunshine on my hands, so off I went.  Come on!

The fair is in an unrivalled setting, basically a country park with a beautiful house at its centre (some of the stalls are in here) and acres of rolling countryside.  The backdrop to the outdoor marquees is breathtaking.

The house isn't bad, either!

The last time, I went to this fair, I remember there being one large marquee with stalls and another for the teas, with a few brave stall holders outside.  Oh my, how this event has grown.  Having spent a few of my pennies in what I thought was the main marquee, I ventured out into the sunshine to find a veritable shopping avenue had been created with a further two open-fronted marquees.

The stalls were of eye-wateringly super quality.  The merchandise was mainly vintage with some handmade, too, and little in the way of new goods (some candles, a few clothes and garden plants and ornaments).  The stall holders had pulled out all the stops and everything was beautifully and tantalisingly displayed, "The Old Haberdashery" being a case in point.  (This is a shop based in Ticehurst which I think is a must-visit for the future.)

I confess to ransacking the fabrics, very reasonably priced, too.

Stall holders reliably informed me that they had kept much of their best stock for this fair.  I could tell!  There were swoon-worthy items for the home...

Sad-looking much-loved vintage toys begging to be given a new home...

Gorgeous old cotton reels and cards of beautiful buttons...

Fabulous fabric (as to be expected from The Washerwoman)...

Utterly beautiful displays on a floral theme from the lovely shop Living Vintage (based in Battersea, I have blogged previously about my visits there)...

More furry friends, of the sit-on push-along type.  Woof!

Gorgeous greenery...

Sarah Moore (who has recently published her fabulous "Vintage Home" book) had a stall full of items you wanted to take home.

Phew!  Time to refuel.  The catering at this fair is of a high standard too (even if, at only just after midday, a lot of things did seem to have run out), and a real effort is made with white linen cloths and posies of flowers in vintage vases on the tables of the bunting-decked marquee.

How could I refuse?

I can also say that the shoppers and stall holders were all really friendly and pleasant to chat with, no elbows out here!  They were also very well dressed.  When I admired this lady's jacket, who did it turn out to belong to but Sarah Jane down-the-lane.  Having followed her blog for some time, it was the first time we'd bumped into each other.  It was also nice to have a natter with fellow blogger The Vanilla Squirrel and her floral jacket was much admired!  I realised I was trailing her round the fair as our photos of pretty much the same things kept cropping up on Instagram within minutes of each other!

Lizzie (The Washerwoman) was easily spotted in her fabulous patchwork coat.

I went for spots.

After a truly lovely few hours in splendid sunshine, I headed back to the car (the walk felt longer now my arms were somewhat longer), pleased with my booty.

More excitement was to come once I got home.  Isn't it great when you get back and can "play" with all your newly-found goodies?  I was eager to have a look at my new tin as it wasn't just the delightful anemones on the outside that tempted me but the price label attached which read "includes sewing bits".

It contained a veritable hoard of treasure from 1920's bakelite belt buckles through 1940's embroidery silks to 1970's cotton reels.  Smashing!

Vying for first place as prize find, is this stunning hand-pieced hexagon patchwork quilt which I bought from Sarah Moore.  It was only when I got home and opened it out fully that I appreciated how big it is; it easily covers the top of a king size bed.  So many hours of painstaking work in it, the real delight for me are all the divine fabrics, all in my favourite shade and dating to around the 1930's.  Love.

And sad knitted bunny?  How could I resist?  He has a home with all my other misfits but he doesn't look too happy about it!

All in all, a day to remember.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Forties Fun

Oh the weekend, didn't that pass by in a flash?  It's not to say it wasn't one to remember, however.  It certainly had a 1940's theme which is always a good place to start in my book.

Saturday saw an early start, packing up my wares and heading to Stag and Bow (fast feeling like my second home!) to welcome those eager to make felt posies, just as they did back in the '40s.   I took many of both my vintage and my own handmade items to hopefully inspire those attending.

I can't really think of a nicer to way to while away a Saturday morning!

I think the lovely ladies certainly got the hang of it.

Sunday saw us as a family getting ready for a bit of a jolly.  Off into the Sussex countryside we went.  It was a bit of a mixed day and we were glad of the good sunny spells which broke through.  The Bluebell Railway is set deep in the countryside and the drive through the winding lanes is rather beautiful at this time of year.

We arrived to find the station bustling with activity.  The ladies had been busy baking and brewing up and Mr HenHouse thought he'd better make the most of it with a cup of rosy lee.

Many people had got into the spirit of the era, whether in military or civilian clothing.  It always makes for a good atmosphere.

Horsted Keynes is a particularly well preserved station and has featured in many well known films and television programmes.  It makes a stunning backdrop to this event and the railway also used period correct engines and coaches.

This lady looked rather splendid in the jumper she had hand knitted from a vintage pattern.

The station is home to a fabulous collection of enamelled signs and poster art.

On the platforms, there were some interesting and informative displays.  You often see them at the various 1940's events but this was a new one to us and this lady from the WVS was suggesting ways to save fuel at home, particularly in the kitchen.  She showed us how to cook one pot meals and even how to keep food warm in front of the coal fire in a warmer made from an old biscuit tin.  Here, she is showing how you could keep a "carried meal" (a packed lunch) warm by placing it in a pot in a gas mask box (once the threat of gas attacks had passed), surrounded with hay and with a pillow of rags on top.

She had come in her vintage car which dates to 1936 and I do love it when people bring along ephemera from the era.

The Munchkin was drawn to this noisy piece of equipment!

Next door, we could see the sort of conditions of the time people would have experienced when the air raid warning siren did go off.  (Nice eidys!)  I love all the original bits and pieces you can see in these displays.

One element of this event which could be improved is the lack of vintage merchandise for sale.  There is virtually none of this which is a shame as the railway frequently holds toy and train collector fairs.  For folks like us, the chance to browse and maybe buy vintage treasures is a big part of the day.  Come on Bluebell Railway!

We took a picnic with us, in our vintage picnic hamper, and after a few obligatory sandwiches, out came the cream tea.  Yummy!  (Very good scones, using Paul Hollywood's recipe from the BBC Good Food website, for the first time.)

We had a rest and did a spot of vintage reading.  My wartime sewing book extolled the virtues of patchwork...

...and Mr HenHouse had his own reading matter. (I'm not convinced he'd necessarily agree with the sentiment!)

Master Munchkin seemed to turn into a 1940's Dr Dolittle.  First he found the station cat...

...then it was the spaniels (he loves this breed of dog).

We listened awhile to the entertainment.

But they couldn't hope to compete with the spectacle of the Spitfire overhead (though it wasn't actually one from the Second World War).

Phew, it was a lovely day but it's always nice to head for home, don't you agree?  Especially in style. 

My love affair with the fabulous Forties continued when the postie rang the bell this morning, (he was not wearing a period correct brown jacket and tie, I'm sorry to say,) and delivered my latest find. A most treasured original 1940's posy necklace.


Have a super week. XXX

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Busy Bee

Hello readers.  I hope you enjoyed a restful/fun filled/generally brilliant weekend.  So great to see the sunshine appear here in Blighty!  Well, I don't know about you, but for me it's been a busy old week.  Some of you asked to see my quilts on display in the window of Stag and Bow, so here you go.  So nice for me to see them there!  I think they look good with the new lettering on the window and have apparently attracted a lot of attention.

Tuesday night was week one of my Patchwork and Quilting course.  5 lovely ladies arrived at Stag and Bow to learn P&Q from scratch.

They are a lovely lot and all seemed keen and enjoyed themselves, starting on their own quilt.

We selected fabrics and laid them out, learned how to organise our rows and finally, start chain-piecing them, before pressing.

I can't wait for next week, here's hoping they feel the same, when my ladies start learning to make a sandwich, of the quilty variety, and make a start on quilting.

We nipped off to the West Country on Saturday morning, just in time to catch the brass band playing and have a good mooch round the shops.  A visit to Girl's Own Store was a must, of course.

On Sunday, we had a fabby time at the giant flea market at Shepton Mallet.  We arrived early and were rewarded with lots of treasures.  We rewarded ourselves with a cream tea back at the cottage in the afternoon.  The drinking glasses, large plate and book were all very cheap loot found this weekend, easily costing less than a fiver for the lot.  I love thrifting!

Talking of cake, I whipped up a giant sponge for crafty Wednesday morning at Stag and Bow yesterday.  My waistline is not going to forgive me all these indulgences, I fear.  (I found the green fabrics at Sunday's flea market so wasted no time incorporating them into my hexy patchwork.)

I grabbed up my ever-increasing hexy project to work on.  I started this intending it to be a sewing machine cover but have since decided I don't want to use it for that after all (what would happen when I bought a new machine and it needed a new cover?  All that work wasted.)  So, I'm just carrying on.  So far, I have managed to keep all the hexagons different and they are all vintage fabric, mainly 1930-1950.  As I get new ones, I add a hexy to my pile to incorporate into what I suppose is becoming a small quilt or throw.  I will just keep going and work on it every now and then when I have the time or the urge.  I love that it's a sort of archive of my vintage fabrics.

A few new (old) fabrics arrived yesterday, and the sunshine and emerging flowers outdoors, prompted me to have a little rearrangement of my Bagpuss table to inspire my Spring-time making.

Talking of making, last week was spent concentrating on these...

Yes, it was back to posies, lots of them, 1940's style.  These were so popular during the Second World War because real flowers were not readily available and equally, it was very difficult to buy jewellery as metals were being used in the war effort.  Enterprising ladies, with the help of the magazines of the day, were encouraged to make these posy brooches using felt, which was unrationed, to cheer up their outfits, which were becoming somewhat jaded with the clothes rationing in place.  I worked on some new designs, working to original patterns or drafting my own patterns based on original posy brooches in my collection.  Sometimes, I tweak the patterns as some of them make up into huge-sized posies, and the felt we have available today is nowhere near as thick as that used in wartime, so the flowers often need extra help to keep their shape.

I trundled off to Stag and Bow to take my wares for a window display.

I think they look cute on this gorgeous green knitted top. The shop sells yarn and knitted this one up as a sample.

This frame was from the £1 shop and I painted it green, as you can see, and inserted a padded, vintage fabric covered board to allow me to pin my brooches to it.  An easy and cheap make over which looks a million times better than the tacky original!

So, this Saturday is the first posy-making workshop at Stag and Bow.  Do you fancy it?  Stag and Bow is a gorgeous shop with lovely owners (you can read about it in a past blog post here), located in Forest Hill which is less than a 15 minute rail journey from London and then literally a two minute walk across the road from the station.  We'd love to see you there, there are a couple of spaces left, starting at 9am (until 12) on Saturday, the workshop costs a bargainous £38 (all materials provided).  The tea and biscuits will be out so we'll have a good old natter and of course, you'll be able to go away with your own posies and some new skills.  Just ring the shop if you are interested.

Enjoy the rest of the week... Xxx