Friday, 31 July 2015


This month I have been immersed in books, as always they have been a welcome distraction from the real world! I loved re-reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" in preparation for "Go Set a Watchman", having read it originally about ten years ago, and I found I appreciated it so much more this time around, the benefit of a bit of life experience I should imagine. Don't know that I'll be re-reading "Go Set a Watchman"...
My July books...
  • Gillian Flynn - "Gone Girl"
  • Harper Lee - "To Kill a Mockingbird"
  • Harper Lee - "Go Set a Watchman" 
  • Lena Dunham - "Not That Kind Of Girl"
  • R.J Palacio - "Wonder"
  • Sue Townsend - "The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year"

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Taking Stock...

Making : Cosy Blankets and little hats
Cooking : Raspberries
Drinking : Tea
Reading: Lots this month - just finished "Not That Kind of Girl" by Lena Dunham
Wanting: more pretty plants in the house. Especially Succulents as I seem to be managing to keep them alive...
Looking: forward to a day at the seaside when the weather improves
Playing: "Cards Against Humanity"
Deciding: where to go for adventures
Wishing: cake had no calories...
Enjoying: a mix-tape from my husband
Waiting: for sunshine
Liking: dinosaurs 
Wondering: if learning to use a drop-spindle would lead on to harder-spinning-behaviour? Is it a gateway craft?
Loving: the summer's first beautiful orange roses
Pondering: new projects
Considering: what to read next
Buying: Moomin PJs and more thrifty bits and bobs
Watching: classic movies from my childhood - "Jurassic Park" and "Ghostbusters" mostly
Hoping: for more strawberries from the plants in my garden, they've been a bit sad so far...
Marvelling: at the amount of little hats that are arriving at my stall already!
Cringing: at how rubbish people can be to each other.
Needing: to sleep properly
Questioning: how fast time flies, how can the days be getting shorter already?
Smelling: the flowers in the garden and the Raspberry Crumble in the kitchen
Wearing: pretty Cath Kidston dresses and skirts 
 how friends become family and how we cross the paths of others
Thinking: that I can't wait to visit the Rob Ryan exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Admiring: beautiful blankets and crafty things online
Sorting: out bags of wool and 4mm knitting needles for our Big-Knit-Along!
Getting: excited for the Big-Knit-Along!
Bookmarking: crafty projects and patterns
Coveting: Cath Kidston dresses and PlayPurses (especially the yellow one...)
Disliking: grumpy people
Giggling: with my dear friends
Feeling: grateful, ever so grateful
Snacking: on "kid's tea" (©Amy H)of Quorn Chicken Nuggets and Potato Waffles
Helping: my sister get started with her new business and feeling ever so proud
Hearing: lots of pretty songs - I rather like Daughter, they have a nice song called "In the Shallows"

Thanks as always to lovely Pip at Meet Me At Mike's for this fabulously inspirational list!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

My Week

This week has reminded me of the things that are special, moments that are small but important - I have picked fresh raspberries from our garden, fingers stained with juice, and enjoyed the home-made crumble that my lovely husband baked with them. We joined my dear friend for a tea-party to celebrate her new home, her table covered with crochet and the beautiful ceramics that she made as her final degree project, and we ate sweet heart-shaped cakes in the garden, making plans for the summer. 
We had a quiet day visit to Ruthin, and went on to Llangollen and Ellesmere, just walking and chatting and looking around the little shops. A sweet friend came to visit and gave me a yellow toadstool, which has found a home on my fireplace, and my mum came to my stall to knit with me. We had a trip to the weird and wonderful antique place, and I had tea and crumpets, my favourite snack, and my mum told me that my Granny always had crumpets in the cupboard for me because they were always my favourite. I didn't know that. 
(Thanks to Amy H for the table photo from her Instagram...)

Friday, 24 July 2015

A Thrifty Day Out

Yesterday, over tea and toast with my family, a plan was hatched - a trip to a weird and wonderful place called Dagfields. Armed with a bag of sweets for the journey, we jumped in the car and went off on a spontaneous adventure. 
My thrifty heart was filled with joy when we arrived and saw a variety of buildings all full of the most random artefacts imaginable. 
We started in the book shop, this was just the outside, the shop itself was a tightly-packed rabbit-warren filled with every genre of book I could think of, including a shelf labelled "female authors" which made me happy indeed. There were biographies of the stars, books on every battle in history, fantastic works of fiction and a children's section that would fill any imagination to overflowing! 
We wandered through to the first antiques and collectables building and I could have spent a lifetime mooching it's aisles, looking at all of the treasures. There were bits and bobs from every era, oddments and wonderful pieces of ephemera. Every shelf was piled high, I don't think I have ever seen so many THINGS! All of my little purchases came from this one building, it was amazing. 

The highlight of the other rooms was this kooky little corner, with T-Rex skull models and a quirky-faced wooden statue, and jumbled combinations of tiny Netsuke, Lego figures, various vintage Disneyana and a very beautiful 1970s pink telephone.

My haul was small and pretty modest - A funny-faced little doll, who looks to be an Uneeda Perfekta doll from 1967 (my research was a little inconclusive), a Saint Etienne tape (a present from my husband), a pretty vintage bead purse, and a Handkerchief vase. All of this for under £10. I was a happy little thrifter. 

I must say, I left behind so many things that I could quite happily have found a home for, including several other Handkerchief vases, a beautiful handmade wooden drop-spindle, pretty floral biscuit tins, records, books, and collector cards of Starlets from the Golden Age of cinema. 
What a strange and wonderful place to visit.

Ruthin Adventure

Our first Summer Holiday adventure was a little trip up into the lovely Welsh Hills, visiting Ruthin Craft Centre. I always leave with a head full of inspiration, they really do show amazing objects. 
The main exhibition is "Not Too Precious", and there are some wonderful pieces of contemporary jewellery. 
Top Row - Zoe Robertson and Felike van der Leest
Middle Row - Christel van der Laan, Mirei Takeuchi and Mariko Sumioka
Bottom Row - Michiriro Sato, Lina Peterson and Catherine Truman

So often beautiful work seems to be overlooked because of the inherent worth of the material. This exhibition was so refreshing, seeing how makers interact with materials and how they are so inventive, being freed from the restraint of rules and obligations of materials and processes associated with "precious" materials. The colours and textures were amazing and I felt a renewed enthusiasm for my own design process. 
The other exhibition was "Welsh Collection II" and was mostly ceramics, as well as a little bit of metal and wood. I love beautiful ceramics, but I was never very good at it myself, so I appreciate the work that goes into it. 
Top Row - Julia Griffiths Jones and Lowri Davies
Bottom Row - Anne Gibbs and Jin Eui Kim

Such beautiful work. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

My Week...

Goodness, how the time flies and I am here sharing my week again. I had little taste if life as a nomadic-crafter at the weekend, selling my wares outdoors for the Oswestry Food and Drink Festival, where I chatted to lots of lovely folks and enjoyed breathing in some fresh air. 
My crafty week has involved talking my mum through Kitchener Stitch to finish a pair of cosy chunky socks, and a lot of crochet on my part, working on a blanket that will be made of very big squares. The plan was to use a white round between colours to help break them up and attempt to stifle my OCD about blending colours. So far it has worked well and helped my unsettled mood by giving me something to work on - I like that about craftiness, the duel purpose of distraction and productiveness. The highlights of my week were the purchase of a clear vinyl Kenickie 7" single, and going along to Manchester to see Korn, one of my teenage obsessions. They were pretty good I would say. 
The week ahead will be a long one, but the summer holidays bring the opportunity for adventure, and as always I will grab that opportunity with both hands. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Thoughts On Creativity...

I woke up in the wee small hours of this morning, wide awake with little chance of nodding-off again. I pondered on different things - my future, relationships, people that have been in my life and in some cases, why they aren't any more. Times of unrest often leave me pondersome, I question my own place in the world, what I want to achieve and how to do it. 

I have had a particular aspiration for a while now, a small one really, to fill a sketchbook page every day. It's been something I have tried over and over, but the pressure to be creative so often leads to resentment and a lack of enthusiasm - it becomes a chore. In my drowsy, sleep deprived state I had a revelation. Silly really, but I realised that I am already creative every single day. Be it by hook or needles, pliers or scissors, I am creative EVERY DAY. I have things to show for my hard work, the time that I spend being creative. I make things that make me happy, and in my day-job as a full time crafter I hope that they make other people happy too. 

The standards we set for ourselves can be so destructive. Isn't it funny how self-imposed ideas of "creativity" leave you unable to see the wood for the trees? But how can these habits be broken? I know that some of this comes from my university experience - the decision on what was valid was made by other people, a full sketchbook for example was a tangible show of effort and thought process, a finished product in itself. But I don't have to seek approval any more, I want to keep a sketchbook because I love the act of keeping records of thoughts, of documenting my creative process. I'll keep trying, but I must learn to be less hard on myself. After all, these things are meant to be for my benefit, and for my own enjoyment. 

I don't have the answers just yet, but I feel like this realisation is a good start. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Cosy Nook to Call My Own...

Today I am sitting in my little stall, with my shoes off and a crochet project at my side. I am having a bit of a tough time at the moment. Things are worrisome and sad and I am having to try extra hard to stay positive and keep my chin up. Ideally I just want to hibernate and hide myself away but sadly that isn't really an option, so I have been looking for inspiration for the den that I would like to build, the cosy nook that I would create to help me shut out the world. I thought I might share my findings...
from this article - "14 Bohemian Style Gardens"
From Flickr
From Pinterest

From Ffffound

Saturday, 11 July 2015

My Week...

This week has been a strange one. It's been complicated and I hope the coming week is a better one. There have been nice bits though - I got to spend some time with my lovely family, had a knitting session with my friend over a cup of tea, and went to see David Starkey with my husband.
My sister came home from her holidays in Whitstable with something very special for me - a SunJelly coral Dorothy bag (I love that it has a name) and my little cat was very interested in it. I also had a very kind present from my dear friend - a pretty plant and some gorgeous Rose chocolate. 
My crochet blanket is progressing nicely, I'm trying to find time here and there to add to it. I am trying to make the best of the days that are hard. 

Saturday, 4 July 2015

My Week...

What a lovely week it has been! The sun has been shining and the long days have been glorious, we even made ice cream to help with overheating! We had a date-night at the movies, and I had a very jolly trip to Liverpool. 
I was a little bit under the weather on Sunday so I started making granny squares - I've made blankets with small squares, and large squares that just keep going, but never a whole blanket made of big squares, so that's my plan - I've done eleven rounds on each square now so I'm a happy camper. 

Friday, 3 July 2015

A Little Adventure

I have been a busy bee this week, working my little socks off to get to-do lists done so that I could take myself off for a little day out. Yesterday I hopped on the train and went to Liverpool. After living there for four years, Liverpool is like a second home to me, and even after eight years away, I sometimes miss it terribly. I love the old buildings on the waterfront, the amazing independent shops on Bold Street, the hustle and bustle of the city. The place that I miss the most is the Tate - I love the way an art gallery has fitted so effortlessly into an old industrial space, the strange little nooks and crannies that you just don't get with modern, purpose built galleries. I went primarily to see the new Jackson Pollock exhibition, not a favourite artist of mine but I like to be open-minded. The exhibition was interesting and logically curated (that sounds ridiculous I know but I hate it when exhibitions don't make sense)and I particularly enjoyed seeing the work on the Japanese and handmade papers. 
The highlight of my visit was the Geta Bratescu exhibition, so full of colour and experimentation, I loved the texture and the repetition of ideas, I found it very interesting. 
Image from Tate Website - Geta Bratescu Medeic Callisthenic Moves 1980-1 © Geta Bratescu, Ivan Gallery, Bucharest

I took a look around the DLA Piper Series, and there was something new that I enjoyed - Lorna Simpson's "Photo Booth". The combination of the concept (photos from the 1940's interspersed with her own drawings) and the execution (I love the was it is displayed) made it really appealing to me - I have always enjoyed seeing collections. 

I love the work from Saloua Raouda Choucair too, her retrospective at Tate Modern stands out for me as one of the best exhibitions that I've seen. This piece is called "Poem of Nine Verses". 
I went on from the Tate to the Liverpool World Museum to take a look at the Maya exhibition and it was stunning. 

Painted Figure - Late Classic Period (AD600-900) Elderly Man in Blue Araceae flower
Disc from Chichen Itza - Early post-classic period (AD900-1250) made of wood, turquoise, shell, coral and slate.

It was just fantastic, a huge exhibition of really interesting things so skilfully made. I'm hoping to visit again before it closes. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

My Month in Makes...June

I must confess that it's been a somewhat disjointed month of making - I've finished a pair of socks, and for my stall some rosebud brooches and button earrings, but otherwise I have either started new projects - Frankensocks and large granny squares - or plodded along with projects that were already in the making - my 2015 blanket and my grey and pink socks. 
I have been working on some more squares for the "Square Enough" course that I'm running with my knitty friend, it's less than a week away now and I'm a healthy mixture of excited and very nervous!