Saturday, 28 December 2013

Feeling Festive

Well, it is rather late, but I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, readers.  Time has just run away with me this year but I still wanted to get here, my special place, and record our goings on for the festive period.  Maybe one reason I've been short of blogging time, is that it has been a very handmade Christmas here this year.

First, as you may recall, there was the granny ripple blanket.

It isn't finished, although, it has grown a lot, but I never thought it would be finished this year.  It is much wider than I really anticipated so each stripe takes a good half hour but it is looking great and feeling super cosy.    I think I will park it now and get back to it next Christmas when I am in the festive mood again.  I have enjoyed the soothing, easy pattern very much.

It wasn't long before I was reacquainting myself with my Christmas fabric stash.  I still hadn't got those pot holders out of my head and whipped up a few as gifts for crafty friends.

I also made us a giant bauble pot holder which Mr HenHouse found came in very handy for resting the wine decanter on!

I also became seized by the desire to make another Christmas quilt.  I cut many 2.5" wide strips.  It was time for a festive scrappy trip along.

I worked on the blocks here and there, adding to my Christmas fabric stash along the way, (there is a new quilting shop in Bridport!) and watching old DVDs of Ally McBeal, so soon, I was nearing completion.  I wasn't sure I'd get it finished, so many other things were vying for my time and attention.

In between, we found some time to decorate the house.

I enjoyed gathering together all my red and green vintage bits and pieces for the shelves in my kitchen. Why not having something good to look at whilst washing up?  I will miss this when it's time to take it down.

The cottage also had a few decorations put up and was soon looking like a magical grotto!

The dresser had a bit of festive cheer added, too.

Back at the ranch, as they say, the making continued with a cute holly brooch.

I was very late in getting my Christmas cards made this year and I continued what I had started on the Jessie Chorley workshop back in November.

You might just be able to see that the one top left has a little embroidered and beaded Christmas tree brooch attached (which it was possible to remove and wear).  I liked this so much, I made the same brooch for myself but this one went to a good, brooch-loving friend.

Somewhere along the way, to accompany the Christmas crooners in the background, the Den received a little festive touch.  It's always a pleasure to work in here, but especially at this time of year.

Other making was going on, not necessarily of the textile kind.  The cakes had been made well in advance and dutifully fed and watered!   One for my in-laws, one for us.  I like the old fashioned way of decorating, with thick swirled icing to look like snow and old decorations, as my mum and nan have always done it.

More craftiness took place in the late afternoons and evenings, with the twinkly fairy lights aglow, a roaring fire to stay cosy, and friends dropping in for chat, crochet and nibbles.  Jacky Ginge was pleased!

We popped to see family, braving the awful weather (but how lucky we are compared with those poor souls without power or suffering from the floods), and I sat and hand stitched the Christmas quilt binding until it was finished for a shot of the three generations.  (The quilt in the background was my Christmas gift to my in-laws a few years back.) 

All too soon, for the run up to Christmas Day is really the best bit, I think, it was time to be off to church for the Christingle service.  We can still get away with this with the Munchkin but it is getting harder to take a cute shot each year! 

Finally, everything was ready for the big day.  I don't think Father Christmas came down the chimney in this room!

Looking at the tree, he'd clearly visited, though.  Phew, we must have been good.

Fun was had, tearing off all those time consuming wrappings, more quickly by some younger members than others!  How fortunate we are, everyone very happy with the lovely things thoughtfully chosen for them.  Vorey didn't seem so keen on his bow.

Charlie Boy went for tinsel this year...

By the end of the day, they'd clearly had enough!

We enjoyed a fabulous lunch.  All my meat was sent packed in ice, by overnight courier from Bridport, which was just fantastic.  We pulled crackers, wore silly paper hats as one must, and generally ate far too much, all under the watchful eye of Her Royal Highness.

We've had a thoroughly wonderful Christmas and now it is admittedly rather nice to have a well-earned rest!

I've packed away the Christmas fabrics and trims and had a good tidy up in the Den.  I'm ready for a New Year and lots of fabulous new crafty projects.  I do hope you'll share it with me. Xxx

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Hats Off

Rewinding back a few weeks, I found myself at the crafty purveyor  Stag and Bow, you'll have read about them here before.  I was here not to teach a workshop myself this time, but to take part in one.  I do like to do this sort of thing, it's a chance to immerse yourself in craftiness with like minded souls and learn some new skills at the same time.  
This workshop was being taken by Mary Jane Baxter.  You may know her as a BBC journalist or you may know her as a milliner who has published several books, including the most recent "The Modern Girls' Guide to Hatmaking".  Mary Jane's style is heavily influenced by vintage so was promising to be right up my street. The table was laden with a tantalising array of materials of all sorts; feathers, lace, fabric, buttons, even pipe cleaners.

Stag and Bow have had some of Mary Jane's work displayed in the shop and I had fallen in love with these headbands. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the previous workshop to make those but I have bought the book (which shows you how to make these) so that's one for another time.  Mary Jane is very generous with her materials and her knowledge and there's a list of suppliers in the back of the book.

We were making a fascinator, another project in Mary Jane's book.  It looked very interesting and impressive but I have to be honest that I couldn't really see myself wearing something with all those fabulous feathers.  Yikes!

We started with a base on which to build up our own fascinator using all the materials at our fingertips.  Oh, the choice.  I covered my black sinamay base with a stretchy lace in maroon and decided to add a small veil which Mary Jane showed us how to make, including those fab little furry dots.

I was pondering the sequins when my eyes settled on a little bunch of vintage millinery flowers.  I love that sort of thing and have quite a collection myself, as you know.  I tentatively tried them against the base I'd made and was chuffed to see what a cute match they made.  From there, my piece was transformed.   Mary Jane showed me how to shape and cut down some large black feathers which I slotted between the ditsy flowers. I watched with interest, though, as she showed us how to curve and curl the large pheasant feathers.  Skills squirrelled away for another day.  I was really pleased with how my creation turned out and it just goes to show, you can always put your own spin on things.

Let's hope that in the future I have a glamorous event to attend and make use of my pretty fascinator!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Smashing Selvedge

As promised, I couldn't let the week pass without popping back to share my trip to the Selvedge Fair at Chelsea Old Town hall last Friday.  The fair now stretches over two days (Friday and Saturday) and is held in a lovely old hall, full to the brim with stall holders and well heeled shoppers!  It was certainly busy on Friday morning.

The first stall I encountered in the foyer was that of an old favourite, Made in Hastings.  I am a big fan of Claire Fletcher's work and I would dearly love one of her angel dolls.  One day.  This time, I had to be content with an ogle and I did buy some jolly Christmas themed badges.  Not sure what I am going to do with them - yet!

Along the hallway, was a stall right up my street, full of vintage trims and fabrics.  The buttons on the cards looked very pretty but I came away with some 1950's fabric for the stash.

I bought some more oddments of antique fabric and bits of Durham quilt from Sallie Ead's stall, a lady I often see at fairs in the West Country.  Watch this space as I have Christmassy projects in mind for those.

Jess Quinn's stall was a delight, with her quirky handmade dolls and I loved the felt baubles, too.

Sarah Strachan is a lady I've met at the last couple of Selvedge fairs and I love her work.  I bought a kit to make these cute pixie dolls.

She has a knack of creating very cute scenes with her fairies but it's all the little details I delight in: that dinky crocheted blanket on the bed and the little wrapped presents.

I eventually found an old friend in Viv of Hen's Teeth whose stall looked really beautiful.  It was clear she'd worked long and hard on the gorgeous stitchy items she had for sale.

Her new toadstool designs were looking particularly cute and into my shopping bag went a few goodies: a Christmas present and some embroidered scraps from Viv's workbox to make some treasures of my own.

Just across from Viv, I found Ellie Evans.  I am a fan of her stitched work, too.  I most like the very individual pieces she makes inside old cutlery boxes.

Inside the main hall, I found Jessie Chorley, and you will know if you've read this blog a while that I am a big fan of her work and have attended a few of her workshops.  Her stall was a veritable feast for the eyes.

I particularly loved her new sewing themed brooches, needlecases and pin cushions.  I wouldn't mind finding those in my stocking! Just in case, I couldn't resist bringing home a "Pins" brooch which actually opens out into  miniature needle case.  

Finally, I was pleased to find that The Magpie and The Wardrobe also had a stall at the fair this time.  I received one of their quirky necklaces as a gift a few years ago and the stall looked enchanting.  

It was difficult to capture on camera, but a little old cabinet had been transformed into a dolls house.

Inside, dolly was in bed, waiting for Christmas morning, no doubt!

I had an absolutely marvellous time at the Fair.  It really is of the highest quality.  Most of my purchases were raw materials which I can use in creations of my own but I did find a few handmade goodies slipped into my bag.  Whilst I can make many things myself, I always like to support the work of fellow makers and my purchasers are lovely mementoes of a super day out.  I'm looking forward to getting my hands stuck into these goodies soon.

The next Selvedge fair is on at the beginning of April, so do check the magazine or website for details.