Tuesday, 23 September 2014

My Quilting Room..and News!

It's a long one today people so grab yourself a cuppa and a packet of biccies and off we go.  It has been on my mind that I have never shared my quilting space with you and if you're reading this old blog, you're probably quite interested in nosing round it.  I have other reasons for also taking these snaps and recording them here today but more of that later.

So off we go to the top floor of the HenHouse.  The Munchkin kindly made me a sign for my door...

Ss you could not have failed to notice, I already have my beloved Den where most of my crafting takes place.  However, once I became rather obsessed with quilting and started to make a lot of quilts (I think it is now over one hundred), I realised that my old arthritic bones were not going allow me to keep crawling round on the hard wooden floors to baste my quilts.  So I started to think about getting a sizeable table and decided that a table tennis table would be just the ticket.  Massive and relatively cheap!  I shoe horned this into a guest bedroom and popped up there just when I needed to baste and quilt.  It was a Godsend.  After a while, I decided that we could do without the guest room and I suppose I sort of took the room over as my own.  I packed the furniture off to a charity which then gives it to homeless people getting their first council property and the rest, as they say, is history.

Enter zone number two of my mini empire!

It is dominated by that massive table.  Pretty it ain't but practical it certainly is.  This is quite a big room, good job as the table is 5 feet wide and 9 feet long.  It is otherwise quite cute really, with it's fireplace,  built-in tongue and groove cupboards and a sloping ceiling along one side.  This would have been a servants' room back in the heyday of this house, it is noticeable how much less elaborate the features are as you progress up the house.

Over in the corner, I have a rather fetching old kitchen cupboard which I bought from some favourite sellers on Bridport's street market.  Inside, it has its original red gingham sticky-backed plastic lining the shelves.  

On top, my lovely working vintage machine was a £15 bargain from the same street market and is accompanied by other bits and bobs of the vintage variety which I have picked up on my travels.  The cute spools mini quilt is a Camille Roskelly design. 

Over on the other side, I have my desk and all its useful books, notions and so on.  The vintage typewriter was £3 from a car boot sale whilst in contrast, the desk, shelves and chair are modern from Ikea.  My beloved Mac lamp was an Ebay purchase (splurge!)  The rather pretty rose print curtains are also vintage and came from a now closed-down shop in Dulwich for £10, or was it £15, I cannot remember.

This felt fox was made using a pattern in Mollie Makes magazine. I love the spines on the vintage books.

My much loved Sylko cotton reel drawers are in pride of place.

This blanket was my first ever crochet project.

Next to my desk, I have a set of Ikea shelves which houses all sorts of things including backing fabrics, quilt batting, magazines and lots of little crafty makes, many made on workshops with Julie Arkell.

I store some quilts on top.

The focal point of the room is the little fireplace which I've highlighted with a pretty green paint (a mix of various shades).  It is home to some more handmade papier mache and stitchy creatures and some fab old vintage sewing bits 'n' bobs.

So finally, the last wall looks likes this.

There's my favourite quilt alongside a makeshift old quilt ladder.

The quite splendid vintage kitchen cabinet came from Ebay.  Not my best purchase, we travelled to Hampshire and back to collect it only to find it was in pretty awful condition.  Thanks to Mr HenHouse and his patience, it has now been restored to its former glory and most importantly, is home to all sorts of lovely goodies.

In the top, I keep a lot of my vintage haberdashery finds which are a particular weakness of mine.

I lined this section with pretty Liberty print wrapping paper which can be seen when the glass doors are shut.  The drawer is home to some vintage millinery flowers and my prized hand painted belt buckles.  The middle cupboard has tins of yet more vintage haberdashery and also some of my vintage felt collection (I think I can now call it a collection!) In the bottom is my motley pile of old shirts and sheeting fabrics which I've been amassing for a few years now. 

Anyway, now to the news.  Are you sitting comfortably?  On Sunday, I finally had reason to pile up all those quilts...

...take out all my beloved felty needlecases...

...and get packing!

I've been meeting kind and helpful friends in car parks for boxy handovers.

In the better moments, I've been drinking celebratory champagne with my partner-in-crime, Mr HenHouse.

And otherwise turning the HenHouse into cardboard city!

Not just my quilting room but my Den too.  Yikes!

That's just the tip of the iceberg.  I'm pleased to share with you that the time has finally come for us to realise our dream and perform our very own escape to the country.  In just over a week's time, the whole of the HenHouse will be packed into quite a lot of vans and moved many miles away to our beloved West Country.  

So my friends, I hope this goes some way to explain my continued sporadic posting recently, there has been an awful lot going on for the last six months, and to let you know that it's going to be a little while until I shall be back here again.  It's so long old HenHouse and hello new.  Next time, there will be a new HenHouse, a new Den and all sorts of exciting stuff to look forward to.  We are ready.  Well, we will be when all those boxes are filled!  

Cherio X

P.S.  Please make sure you link back properly to any repinned/posted pictures.  Thank you. 


It is with a heavy heart that I share some long overdue news with you.  So so sadly, over the Summer break we had to say goodbye to not one but two of our utterly beloved furry friends.

Vorey was ill for a while but maintained his happy little self; he went downhill very rapidly in the end.  So sad to see him like that but he lived to a ripe old age, (especially considering he was hit by a car when young and lost his tail), and had a happy life in a loving home.  Hand on heart, I can say a more devoted pet you would not find.  My little shadow.

As if this was not cruel enough, just a month later, we found Jacky Ginge was completely not himself on the morning of Bank Holiday Monday.  We rushed him to the emergency vet nearby but there was nothing they could do and we had to say goodbye.  

I cannot say that one way or the other was worse.  Jacky Ginge's death was such a shock and devastating but at least we had not had to see him weaken as we had Vorey.  Jacky showed no outward signs of illness so the end was very sudden.  He was a very characterful cat and also very friendly, always the one to sit on visitors' knees, he did love company.  I no longer have my lazy half hour in bed crocheting in the morning, it just isn't the same without him on my lap, hogging the candlewick.

Oh dear.  We do become so very attached to our furry friends, don't we?   Devastating as it has been, I am very grateful for every moment they have been in our lives.  They had their own characters and will never be matched but I think you have to accept the sadness, appreciate the positive years and move on.  We'll always always remember them.

RIP my beautiful boys, Vorey Puss and Jacky Ginge.  Much missed. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Brocante

The Summer has flown by so fast that when I look back through my photos to select some to base a blog post upon, some of these events feel as if they happened aaaaages ago when in reality it was just a few weeks or so.  I'm going to take it as a sign of a good Summer.

Rewinding back to the end of August, we had a rare weekend at home and I was pretty glad because I had an outing planned.  Off we set in Delia Disco (that's our new car, christened by The Munchkin) for the pretty rolling countryside of Sussex.  We flew past perfect village greens, cute public houses promising scrummy home-cooked food and the most gorgeous crooked cottages replete with leaded multi-paned windows and gardens full of hollyhocks. The stuff of English fairy tales.  Finally, we found ourselves in Wisborough Green and it lived up to all those images one has of the quintessential English village.

On the green, the cricket match was taking place which the boys enjoyed but I was more interested, I confess, in that large white  marquee in the distance.  It promised to have many delights inside in the form of the Wisbrorough Green Brocante.  We were early so we had a chance to stroll round the green and take it all in, bumping into a few old friends for a natter along the way.  

I bet that just like me you like a good nosy at the local houses, especially if they are lovely cottages awash with character such as these.

A longish queue had formed outside by the time we returned from the charity shop (with a bag full of gorgeous linen and haberdashery!)  It soon dissipated as eager shoppers thronged inside.  If I have a complaint about the fair it is that it was a bit too busy.  They would have done well to have operated a "one way" system inside the marquee and better controlled the numbers inside at any one time.

Anyway, right inside the entrance, I was thrilled to see a lovely young lady and favourite seller of mine, Emma from Velvet Ribbon.  She has a great eye and I fell greedily on her fabrics for sale.  Stash maintenance is a subject I take most seriously.

I would say the theme of this fair was definitely along French and faded lines.  There was a lot of painted chippy furniture, pastel coloured enamelware and linen textiles.  There were some lovely handmade items too and it was necessary to exercise restraint on the purse strings!

I didn't take a lot of photos, it wasn't really possible with the volume of people.  Some of the stalls were incredibly packed in, I had to walk round several times to get to look at most things (I expect I didn't see everything).  I'm sure this is great for the organisers but doesn't make for the best experience for the visitors (who had paid to get in).

The pubs in the village also fitted the bill perfectly and were very quaint but there was an hour wait for lunch at this one.  I think Wisborough Green had been besieged by treasure-seeking ladies of Sussex and beyond!

All in all, we had a lovely day out; the weather was kind, the setting glorious and I was most happy with my purchases, mainly of the fabric kind.  (Roses still blooming in the garden.)

It wasn't long before I wanted to get my hands on those lovely textiles.  A spot of patchwork and quilting then.

Some more flea market bags were born.  I love making these, get a thrill out of coming up with something so pretty but decidedly useful.  A few remain in my Etsy shop but others have been re-homed already.

I now have one last order on my commission books this week and then I'm going to be taking quite a break.  I'll tell you more about that next time. Xxx

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Festival of Quilts

Hello again readers and thank you so much for the warm welcome back last week.  

Well, another year, another fabulous festival.  Back in August (it seems so long ago!) we headed up to Birmingham again, the boys went off to the Severn Valley Railway and I spent two glorious days immersed in all things quilty.  You really cannot do justice to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in one day so I always treat myself to a hotel and a couple of nights.

Howdy!  Here I am all ready to leave the hotel and hit those stands running.  Let me at it!

It's a little mini trek (fifteen minutes) through the NEC to get to the actual halls where the festival is held.  Luckily, adrenaline/euphoria gets you through pretty quickly whilst along the way you admire the ladies heading the same direction with their patchwork bags which are pretty much de rigeur.  Here's mine, empty and ready for action!

The first stand I invariably come to, I suppose because it's massive, it's more than one stand for a start, and it's pretty much at front central of the festival, is that of the The Cotton Patch.  They always have some sewing celebs on the stand signing their latest book or showcasing their latest range of fabrics and I had a natter with the delightful Amy Butler again.  A more pleasant and genuine lady you shall not meet.  I cooed over this bag she had designed, clever old stick, and bought the pattern and some fabrics and trims from her range to make it.  One day.  It is so very tempting at F0fQ, you end up being completely inspired and enthusiastic and before you know it, you have enough projects to keep you going for the year.  And beyond.

There was a new stall with oodles of Liberty Tana Lawn and other pretty lawn fabrics.  A feast for the senses, don't you think?

Let's look at some quilts, shall we, because it's not all about shopping, is it?  I suppose I am a bit of a traditionalist, what I want to see are classic patterns, 1930s will do nicely thank you, and if you can make them in real vintage fabrics of the period so much the better.  Pretty colour, yes please.  Liberty Tana Lawn, wouldn't say no.  Florals, most definitely.  I suppose that a lot of the quilts exhibited at the festival are not really my cup of tea, therefore.  It's not to say I cannot admire the handiwork but there's too much modern and too much grey and brown and too much free motion quilting for me.

Sorry, I shall step down from my soap box now!

Thus quilt had some cute details.  Anything with cats on is good in my eyes.

I did think this one was very clever and the maker had designed the pattern herself.  I think you can really sense the movement.  Impressive and nice to look at too, don't you think?  Personally I think I would find it hard to stick to so few colours (knowing me you know this too!) so I applaud this.

This was probably my favourite quilt.  Pretty fabrics and cotton reels, what more do you need?

Anyway, back to the shopping.  I had a very small list because I am not really a believer in a shopping list at the FofQ, you need to just go with the flow, but as it turns out, I had left it on the table in my Den.  Very useful.  No matter because I seemed to manage to fill those bags quite easily!  I always love getting back to our room at the end of the day and unpacking all my goodies onto the bed for a good gawp.  There seems to have been a bit of a pale and interesting theme this year.

Whilst perusing, I came across Jo Colwill's stand, Jo runs Cowslip Workshops in Cornwall.  In my last post, I showed you the cushions I had made from the patterns in Jo's book.  She had beautiful fabrics on her stall alongside samples she had made and I am going to make myself one of these little hare hangings one day.

Liked this quilt very much.  There's just something about little houses?

I always find the miniature quilts a little mind boggling.  I've even held up my tape measure so you can see just how small those pieces are.  Yikes!

There was a lovely display once more by the National Quilt Museum from York but as usual, no photography was allowed.  It focussed this year on paper pieced quilts, notably hexagons, with some very beautiful examples.  Even more fascinating almost, were the samples you were allowed to touch and turn over to see the old letters used as templates with their beautiful script writing on the reverse.  They still haven't listened to me, you still can't even purchase postcards of the quilts.  Anyway, here is another EPP quilt from elsewhere in the festival, so there!

Last but not least, don't you just love this quilt top?  This was hanging on the stand of Eternal Maker and if my memory serves me correctly, the pattern is by Elizabeth Hartman.  Foxy love!

It's true.  Even at the Festival of Quilts, awash with row after row of stands selling fat quarter after fat quarter of modern fabric, I managed to dig out some vintage barkcloth.