Monday, 31 August 2015

Readings... August

I think I have read one of my stand-out books of 2015 this month - I absolutely loved "The Bees". It was so different to anything that I've read before, it stayed in my mind for days after I had finished it, as did "Station Eleven" but for different reasons. "Station Eleven" was unsettling, not my usual type of book at all, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I really did enjoy all of my books this month, but any month with Harry Potter in it will be a good one.  
My August books...
  • John Boyne - Noah Barleywater Runs Away
  •  Emily St John Mandel - Station Eleven 
  • Laline Paull - The Bees
  • JK Rowling - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

My Week...

Some of my favourite moments from the last week - tea and cake with my mum and husband in Shrewsbury, visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture park with my lovely friends, and making friends with a bee while we were there, and a business meeting over big red tea-cups. It's been a pretty good week. 

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of those places that I'd always wanted to visit but never quite got around to, so we made a plan and picked a day and off we went on our adventures. It was the most wonderful place, and I already want to go again. 

Some of the huge sculptures in the grounds
Henry Moore - Large Reclining Figure
Nikki de Saint Phalle - Buddha
Nigel Hall 
Sophie Ryder - Sitting
The Camellia House was one of my highlights, it was so beautiful, I could have lived there. There's just something about the strangeness of huge trees and bushes being inside, and the light and all of the glass. It was heavenly.
The Wave sculpture is being installed at the moment, after missing it at the Tower I was so pleased to see it. It's stunning. 

 The Shell Grotto
The Boat House, the lake and the Dam.
And my absolute favourite part of our visit - the Rob Ryan exhibition. It was just the best thing to see so much of his beautiful work in one place. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Taking Stock...August

Making : Pretty jewellery and bead bracelets and cosy blankets and tiny cross-stitch samples and little badges!
Cooking : well, chopping, lovely veggies.
Drinking : decaf tea, in an attempt to cut-down on the caffeine...
Reading: just finished "The Bees" and about to start "The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul"
Wanting: to share big news but not quite ready yet...
Looking: at my pretty new nails - mint green and pink with a little splash of glitter
Playing: with my new badge maker
Deciding: big things
Wishing: I had a crystal ball so I could just double check that things will be ok
Enjoying: rainy afternoons with movies and crochet
Waiting: for big things to start
Liking: feeling inspired
Wondering: if the summer is over...
Loving: making new things
Pondering: things to come
Considering: new converse Sneakers
Buying: lots of books and some pretty new clothes
Watching: Adventure Time
Hoping: things will be better
Marvelling: at mountains of Big Knit hats
Cringing: at the funny things people do sometimes
Needing: pretty things
Questioning: lots and lots of things over and over...
Smelling: rain
Wearing: some of my new jewellery, just trying it out of course...
Following: lots of lovely people on instagram
Noticing: the change in the air
Knowing: that Daniel Radcliffe will always be Harry Potter in my head (watching "What If")
Thinking: that I'm so glad that we have lots of summer fruits in the freezer
Admiring: studios and workspaces of all kinds of talented folks
Sorting: out stuff in my stall, time for a clear out!
Getting: ideas out of my head and into my sketchbook
Bookmarking: pretty and inspiring things
Coveting: fairy lights and bunting and random stuff that I don't really need
Disliking: the brand new bump on my head
Opening: my new notebook
Giggling: at silly tv programmes 
Feeling: excited and a little bit nervous
Snacking: on dried apricots, they are so ridiculously good
Hearing: the birthday party playlist that my husband made for me

Thanks to lovely Pip as always for her super-inspiring list!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

My Week

After the many and various shenanigans of the last two weeks, this week has been one for time at home. There has been the mass-pompom-production that comes with this particular time of year - I spent time sat in the garden with my family whilst making them, and binge-watching tv shows whilst making them, and dreaming about making them. We are edging ever closer to our target of five thousand tiny hats, we are just shy of three thousand at the moment with almost two months still to go, I am pretty proud of how we're doing, and hope it makes a difference to lots of people. 
The quiet-time at home has given me an opportunity to see all of the little creatures enjoying our garden, we've had beautiful butterflies and busy little bees. I hope they like the flowers we've chosen for them. Inspired by the summery florals, (and because the weather is disappointingly wintry) I have been making little tiny cross-stitch samples, using the lovely Cath Kidston "Stitch" book as my starting point. I made a tiny frame brooch that I'm sure I will thoroughly enjoy wearing. There are big changes happening in my little world at the moment, and the hope for the future has given me some inspiration to get making. I am trying to grab it with both hands. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

In search of inspiration...

I love to look behind the scenes of the lives of creative people, whether it's their sketchbooks, or more recently their studios. One of the advantages of social media is the platform for people to share more easily, and I have been mooching around on Pinterest for some inspiration in the form of creative spaces. I wanted to share some of my favourite finds, the spaces that have sparked my imagination...

Oliver Jeffers' New York Studio - from this Guardian Article from 2013
Rachel Whiteread's studio - from this Tate article from 2010
Kiki Slaughter's studio - from Design*Sponge
Livia Cetti's Studio - from Design*Sponge
Malin Gabriella Nordin's studio - from her Tumblr
Howard Tangye's studio - photograph by Kasia Bobula, from her blog
Cameron Archer's studio for Saint Clair Jewelry - from this Refinery29 article from 2014
Lisa Congdon's Studio - from this SF Girl By Bay article from 2014

Saturday, 15 August 2015


Yesterday was one of my favourite "work" days of the year - our Knit-Along for Innocent Smoothie's Big Knit campaign. This is our fifth year making teeny bobble hats to raise money for AgeUK and we always have a little day of knitting and cake and lovely company! Let me introduce the gang...

(Top left photo)
Gemma, who was knitting hats, and also brought along two massive cakes and £25 worth of yarn that her lovely boss at The Little Food Company donated to our day!
My mum, who is my right-hand helper, I really couldn't do it all without her! Mum makes millions of pom-poms for the hats that arrive without them, as well as knitting loads herself, helping me with the counting and bagging up of the hats, and encouraging all of the knitters she knows to help out. She really is ace. 

(Top middle photo)
Then there was Helen and Carys, as well as Mathew, a really lovely crafty family! Helen was crocheting, Carys was making pompoms and Mathew was doing a bit of both! They are legends!

(Top right photo)
Matilda came along to help with pompoms, and even brought along some chocolate coins that she had made - she knows us pretty well!

We also had help from my lovely friends Graeme and Sam and their little folks Abigail and Finlay, but unfortunately I was a bit hopeless and didn't get any photos of them! And my dear friend Lowri kept popping over from her shop with little crochet hats! 

It was a really lovely day, full of tea and cake and laughter, and we made lots and lots of hats and pompoms, as well as taking in more than 500 from people just popping in to drop them off. A conservative estimate of our progress so far is 2500 hats - half of our massive target of five thousand (since it's our fifth year I thought it made a nice target!) and I couldn't be happier!

Hello London

The summer is passing so fast and has been so full of adventures, but our trip to London was my favourite so far. We took ourselves off to the big city for three days and went to lots of fabulous places. 
We started at Tate Britain on Sunday, I've been so excited for the Barbara Hepworth exhibition and it didn't disappoint! I loved her beautiful sculptures, especially the later ones with the incorporation of coloured threads, and it was really special to see her sketches and drawings. 
On Monday we ventured up to The British Library to see the Magna Carta exhibition, then on to Gower Street to visit Speedy's cafe and the front door made famous in "Sherlock" (One of two nerdy pilgrimages of the trip, we also popped along to King's Cross to see Platform 9 and 3/4 and the shop next door but the queues were unbelievable! We went on to the Grant Museum of Zoology, it is part of the University College London, and is full of specimens and slides and it is really fascinating. We managed to pick up tickets to see "The Mentalists" in the evening, I'm a bit of a fan of Stephen Merchant so it was very exciting to see him perform. We were even in the front row!  
On Tuesday we had a slower day, starting out in the National cafe for breakfast, and then on to the National Portrait gallery to see the Portrait Prize. We had tea and apricot cake in the Coffee Tree on Shaftesbury Avenue and left there with beautiful vanilla Cannoli to take home. After that we wandered on up to the Flinders Petrie museum of Egyptian Archaeology, and I was particularly thrilled to see the drop spindles. Our last stop of the day was the Wellcome Collection, a place we always wanted to visit but never quit got around to. The special exhibition was work from Alice Anderson and it was amazing, I'd definitely recommend it! The main collection is full of strange bits and bobs from the history of medicine and anatomy, there are shrunken heads, medical implements, and even some examples of Plastination from the Gunther Von Hagens institute. Of course, my favourite part of the gallery was the oversized Jelly Baby...

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Oxford Adventures

Oxford is a very pretty place to visit. We spent our big anniversary mooching around the lovely museums and enjoying their collections of weird and wonderful things. We started at the big blue door of the Ashmolean, taking a look at their cabinets of beautiful objects, and enjoying their exhibition of work by female Chinese artists, then looking at their modern art collections - I do so love the organic shapes of Barbara Hepworth's work. 

After a brief stop for Afternoon Tea, we wandered on down to the Museum of Natural History, because I really do love Dinosaurs and collections of things in jars and bugs with pins. It is the most amazing building, so light and full of treasures.

 And of course, it leads on through to the Pitt Rivers museum, the most fantastical place that I have ever visited, and even on my third visit I do not believe that I have absorbed all of the things that my eyes pass over. There are cabinets taking up all but the tiny walkways between, each filled with amazing treasures, organised in a way I had never seen before - thematically by item, regardless of age, alphabetically by cabinet and quite regularly without geographical restriction. 

"In most ethnographic and archaeological museums the displays are arranged according to geographical or cultural areas. Here they are arranged according to type: musical instruments, weapons, masks, textiles, jewellery, and tools are all displayed in groups to show how the same problems have been solved at different times by different peoples" from the Pitt Rivers website

There is everything that could be imagined - jewellery, toys, sewing items, hair pins, religious idols, musical instruments, weapons, smoking paraphernalia and even a whole case showing the "treatment of dead enemies". I don't think I could ever get tired of looking around, peering into those cabinets, they seem to show the whole of the history of the world. 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

My Week...

I'm not entirely sure how July passed so quickly, but here we are in August, and the first week has flown by in a whirl of fabulous adventures! We started the week harvesting the lovely ripe summer fruits - yellow and red raspberries, giant rhubarb, gooseberries, blackcurrants and even a couple of juicy cherries. We made a crumble with the raspberries, and put most of the rhubarb in the freezer ready for treats in the winter. We ventured to Shrewsbury for charity shopping and lots of tea and cake, and I found myself the most beautiful carved Lucite brooch with pretty roses. My other fancy purchase this week was Marimo algae, little green pompom-plants that live on my shelf, they're settling in well. 
On Thursday we celebrated our Tenth Wedding Anniversary with a little trip to Oxford, and we had the most wonderful time. In preparation for our visit to the Oxford Natural History Museum I made myself some dinosaur jewellery - I chose to wear the Diplodocus on the day. I also made some goldfish jewellery which I am rather in love with. It has been a week to remember.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

My Month in Makes - July

Unusually I have had a fairly quite making-month, and I haven't knitted a stitch of either pair of socks. I've made a whole bunch of little hats for the Big Knit, and about one-hundred and forty pompoms to finish off hats. The rest of my time has been taken up by crochet, I've added two rows to my 2015 blanket, and joined up my nine big squares to make a cosy blanket, I'm just working on the edges now. 
I've started my forth big granny square for my newest blanket, and I love the squares so far. I'm using a 4mm hook and using white for every other row. It's been a handy stash buster, and I'm so pleased with it so far. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

My Week...

The beginning of this week was perfect for hibernation at home, cosy with cups of tea and a Harry Potter movie-marathon and a big bundle of crochet while it rained outside. We snacked on homemade raspberry crumble and ice cream, and it was perfectly delightful. We had Christmas in July with friends - it was because of lateness rather than design, but next year we plan to do it deliberately as we all have birthdays in the months either side of Christmas. I made one-hundred and forty pompoms for Big Knit hats, and we counted the ones that have already arrived - there are 873 so far. 
I have had a couple of little adventures this week - I've been to Wolverhampton and Liverpool, and had a mooch around the shops and Galleries, searching for inspiration. I had a look around the Tate, FACT and the Liverpool World Museum, and bought lots of plastic from the comic book shops. I also went to my first ever Clothes Swap with my little sister, we had a splendid time and I found a very sweet little skirt to bring home. It's been a lovely week.