Pattern gold

George_&_Aurora

Newlywed birds made for a sweet couple of friends who recently married.

After a long hiatus, I'm back with a few blog design changes and that overdue pattern recommendation. Typepad are very slowly coming around to responsive themes. This one I'm using (still in beta) is the first I've found that works properly. What do you think?

Artist, Ann Wood's Little Bird pattern was perfect for a couple of gifts I wanted to make. I've always loved her designs, it was a real treat to find that she's now selling her patterns, including her amazing ships. Ann has a lovely style to the way she writes her tutorials.

IMG_9932

This one was for a robin loving friend.

I'm pleased with these little birds but I'd do a few things differently if I made them again sometime. Getting better wire for one thing and stuffing until the seams nearly burst for another. The newlyweds in particular have kind of saggy bottoms.

These birds are quite small so they're perfect for using up scraps. They're so easy to customize and make your own yet retain the sweet face the Ann created.

Today I noticed Ann added a post to her website where she recommends her favourite tools. If you're a softie maker or trying out one her new patterns you'll probably find tips there you've read about nowhere else.

IMG_0616

Shadowplay on a sunny day.

And today is Mother's Day in the UK. So happy Mother's Day to all mums everywhere.

Here is a link to my favourite UK flower shop feed on Instagram. I send you all a virtual bouquet.

Happy Sunday :)


Lovely Toos

Sculpture
Sculpture by Toos 

Yesterday Toos Bressers died peacefully at her home in Holland with her family. She was a lovely mum, wife, Oma, auntie, friend and also an artist. Her artwork, some of which I showed here, will always remind me of her love for family, her gentle nature and her generosity. As I type this her twinkling eyes and knowing smile are vivid in my minds eye. 

Love and condolences to sweet Dianne and family.

Jx


The Days, a real Dynamic Duo

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Image from Pallant House, courtesy of Robin Day

We live on the border of Sussex, a county that has had more than its share of creative geniuses as residents. Robin and Lucienne Day were two that called Sussex home and yesterday I took myself to Chichester for the day to see the interiors exhibit dedicated to the pair at Pallant House, curated by Shanna Shelby.

Lucienne-Day-Calyx
Image from Pattern People

While the exhibit had a slim collection of Robin Day's furniture, the show had a great collection of Lucienne Day's pattern designs, including a set of dishes. Instead of becoming a painter, Lucienne's post-war sensibility led her to creating designs for utility though her sense of colour and stylized patterns had a very painterly effect. In fact, many of her designs, including her most popular Calyx pattern, wouldn't look out of place stretched on canvas and propped up in Kandinsky's studio.

Lucinene 2

And there were a few single colour patterns I'd never seen before, interesting because she's most associated with jolly, vibrant, post-war prints like the Calyx pattern on the chairs above.

Grey-&-white

The couple seemed to have a perfect partnership, each artist's designs enhancing the other though they rarely worked together on the same projects. They were incredibly prolific and were together nearly 70 years - both in their nineties when they passed away last year. 

Black-&-red

97_2Lg The Days' innovative designs brought both designers early career success, probably in part because they were aware of a changing market. Post war Britain needed uplifting design that was inexpensive to produce for the mass appeal. Though I warm more to his wood based furniture, Robin Day's polypropylene chairs are a perfect example of this idea and they were built to last; they're still used in schools and village halls the world over.


Photo above from the Design Museum

Polypropylene-chair
Robin Day's polypropylene chairs and Lucienne Day geometric designs

The textiles in the image above are also a perfect example of how well these designers stayed on top of their game in terms of interior movements. The hard-edge geometric designs followed the loosely influenced nature designs Lucienne had given her earlier pieces.

I'm so happy I managed to get there to see the exhibit, it ends this weekend. As I walked around this gem of a gallery I was reminded of two other artists, a contemporary Canadian couple who work successfully with similar mediums, think you might know who I mean :)

Pallant house
Pallant House, the 18th century residence now makes up part of the gallery

I wish I had time to tell you more about my big day out, like also seeing the Mervyn Peake Centenary exhibit, but I'll save it for later. At the moment I'm darting between play performances, violin recitals, summer concerts and sports days; I'm sure many of you are doing the same.

Hope to be back soon.

Jx

 


Beautiful stitches and flying friends

Inspiring-stitchers

High Texture Embroidery of the Moon, by Rachel, Average Jane Crafter
Grey Wolf, by K, Fog and Swell
Slow Felt, by Pat, zencrafting 
Bird brooch, by Geninne, Geninne's Art Blog
Stitched Tit, by Margie, Resurrection Fern 
Goldfinch WIP, gift for my MIL

The past two wet and windy weeks have been less than inspiring for photo taking but I've seen a lot of inspiring stitches in the little blog reading time that I've had. Above are a few of my favourite projects and this post was inspired by the first image, found on Rachel's site. If you haven't already read the many posts about this project that have spread round the web, do so now. The beauty in this moon piece is a perfect example of how the best art stems from passion. She LOVES everything space related and every stitch tells that story.

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Update: This moonscape piece of Rachel's was entered in the Etsy, NASA craft contest. Though Rachel was originally told her embroidery didn't make it through the last round of voting, turns out errors were made and she has made it through. The voting is now open again. If you're an Etsy user and want to help Rachel along, vote for her here.

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The second image is of K's Grey wolf, I adore her creatures, the materials and textures she uses.

Next, Pat's Slow felt stitches. The colours and the textures here are so inspiring too. Though I'm still using lots of linen for stitching, autumn is the perfect time to bring out the wool. Pat's gorgeous piece and its colours remind me of that.

Geninne's Bird brooch. These tiny stitches and the sweet little face just make me smile, like all the other art Geninne makes.

Margie's Blue Tit. I love the birds Margie has ben stitching on hankies; her sparrow is amazing! But I was reminded of her Blue Tit because lots of these little friends have active in our garden this week, wanting me to fill up the feeders, so I have. Not only that but I came home the day before yesterday to find one in our bedroom. Actually, I thought it was one but soon discovered it was a pair of them. Luckily I ushered them safely back outside, but they did leave reminders of themselves throughout our bedroom.

Lastly, that goldfinch pattern I've been testing (from the series of our garden birds) I'm happy with. This one will become a Christmas present for my MIL, lucky she doesn't read NM much :) I've been using a very loose rice stitch here because I'm running out of time for gift making and thought it would be quick, turns out it hasn't been all that quick. We have decided to head to California for Christmas this year, that means less time for festive preparations.

For some reason, this goldfinch stitchery has been making me feel like breaking out the oil paints. My mind does wander, it's no wonder why I will always have piles of WIPs, but I'm okay with that.

Moss-socks

The wet, windy, wild weather we've had the last couple of weeks hasn't kept me indoors too many days. The leaves are gone but there's till amazing colour to be found. Many trees are wearing socks of moss helped on by lots of rain.

So much busyness around here at the moment which I'm sure is the same with most of you this time of year. Work being done on the house we live in, project deadlines, school shows to attend, and finishing patterns. It really will be done this week (I know I said that last week, this time I mean it... I think ;)

Hope you're enjoying Sunday and your week ahead has only good surprises in store. What have you been enjoying this weekend?

Jx

P.S. I just saw this beautiful bit of stitching on Margie's Flickr, made by Sonia - more inspiration.


The winner is...

Candy-buttons
Buttons like candy

I took this picture a little while back, I liked the early morning sun and the way it made this button dish look a lot like sweets.

I've been meaning to post images of this little hand-stitched zine by Jill. It's so sweet, I love her take on autumn. Many of you already know Jill, but if you don't, enjoy a look at her site. 

Jill-cover

And this is my favourite page, I want these socks.

Jill-book

Gracie wants to add a page of her own saying, "Without autumn... there wouldn't be Halloween or my birthday." 

Speaking of G's birthday, she would like to thank everyone ever so much for the kind greetings and wishes, she has loved them all!

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The contest winner is Celine from British Columbia, another Canadian friend.

Lucky she enjoys crochet. Thanks to all who entered, another giveaway coming soon.

Jx

P.S. I've mentioned Pam many times before and have followed her blog beginnings. Diane, her daughter wrote a wonderful post about her mom and her online journey, it's a treat to read.

 


Inspired by the sea

Love-birds

What seems like yesterday but was actually many, many months ago I promised a revisit to friend Fi's house. I've been helping her with a website and she's been painting like a mad woman so now seems a good time.

While in Kent last week I was able to see a whole slew of new paintings and I was lucky enough to receive one of my own. Most of Fi's art is inspired by the sea. The painting is based on an image of Tristan and Grace when they were seven and four. I can't tell you how much we love it.

Tristan-and-Grace
 
Try as I may, just couldn't get a photo that does it justice.

Fi's family home is full of photo opportunities, no staging ever needed or wanted. In fact, if I was a photo-stylist I would want to raid their place for objects of beauty.

Crockery-love

Just pretty.

Fi's-garden

More prettiness. 

Visit her site and enjoy a look at her paintings. On my next visit I want to get inside her studio and hubby Tom's. 

Fi's-Hm-Pg  
Tom is amazing too. A heraldic artist with a special eye for nature painting. He ties the two together so well. The image below is painted with 24 carat gold and real lapis, this one was sweetly painted for Fi.

'F'-1 
Remaining on the seaside theme. Sonia is offering up a very pretty pin-cushion as a giveaway. Click over to Cozy Homemaking before next Friday to be included in the drawing.

Sonia-contest
Photo by Sonia, Cozy Homemaking

I hope you're all enjoying the weekend. Ours is having a real autumnal feel to it but I can't help wanting to cling on to summer. 

 
 


 

If I can do it, you can too...

My-own-stone
Blue covered stone I made, white stone and standing mushroom, by Margie 

I could hardly believe that just seconds after putting up my last post the purl bee posted this tutorial by Margie. I swiftly grabbed a stone, thread and hook and started stitching. I'm not sure I followed the pattern exactly but it's okay, I still love it. I made this one as a mate to the sweet white one Margie made and I'm so excited to have made my very own. 

The stitches really are simple so if you're in the process of learning crochet give it a try. Really, if I can do it, you can too.

Pub-collage
In the garden of a nearby pub

And these are some images from our day at a pub nearby. This pub has the nicest garden we've ever been to and as you can see, doggies are welcome too. There's a beautiful kitchen garden and little nooks where you can curl up with a book, the Sunday papers, or in my case, a bit of crochet. I'm hoping the sun will shine brightly tomorrow when we meet our lovely Sonia and family in this very place - I can't wait!

If you visit Hampshire and are in the Petersfield area, email me for directions to this special spot. Oh, I forgot to mention, the food is all local and amazing and the regional brews are definitely worth a taste as well.

 More images of our favourite pub on Flickr.  


Sharing inspiration

Embroidered-cloth
Hand embroidered luncheon table cloth, only £3 !

When I happen upon antique lace, embroidery or old linens at boot fairs, I find it impossible to haggle over prices. The work and love poured into every thread is always worth so much more than the price being charged. A couple of weeks ago I bought this large, luncheon-style, hand-embroidered table cloth from an elderly woman who stitched it herself when she was 11. She nearly apologised for charging me £3. I wanted to give her a little extra but she wouldn't take it. When I told her stitching crafts are popular again and that I love teaching little ones to embroider it warmed her heart more than a few extra pounds would have done.

Though embroidery is probably still my favourite type of stitching, I'm still really enjoying my quest to crochet. Admittedly, it hasn't been the easiest task, so I thought I would share some of the individuals who have inspired me to persevere.

Pretty-Pieces
Crochet covered stone and crochet+Liberty stone mushroom by Margie 

I've probably said it before, but Margie is one of the cleverest people I know and she's inspiring in so many ways. Her pretty, lacey, crochet covered stones and creations are gorgeous and highly coveted. I feel lucky to have my very own to look at every day. She also kindly offers many, many tutorials on her blog, crochet among them. Little G has been begging for a tiny pocket necklace like this for one of her stones (we have no pretty acorns around here so a stone it will be.) I dream of one day sitting on Margie's big porch, stitching with her side-by-side.

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Grey Crochet Motif Necklace, un jardin de hilo 

Olivia, from un jardin de hilo, has such perfect looking stitches I can only marvel at the beauty. I love her colour choices too, maybe grey wasn't the best example, but I really adore this motif. Her Etsy shop is definitely on my wish list - I can't decide on which piece, really any of them would please me very much thank-you! If you crochet, Olivia also offers a few tutorials (in both diagram and instruction form.) Scroll through her site to find the tutorials, you'll be glad you did.

KW-porc-lace
Porcelain lace, by Kristen Wicklund, Photograph by Laure Joliet

Found via Design for Mankind, this porcelain lace may not be soft to the touch but it is sweet and so pretty to behold. I fancy having a whole wall of Kristen Wicklund's porcelain crochet, just like the one hung at her solo show at Heath Ceramics in Los Angeles. 

Plastic_lace 
Reincarnation, a work-in-progress crocheted from used plastic bags gathered in New York

Kristen also works crochet on a very big scale. I've seen plastic bags re-purposed in many ways, but I've never seen them looking this pretty. Maybe she'll exhibit in London one day - I'd love to see her work in three dimensions. To view much more of her work in two dimensions also see Kristen's Flickr photostream.

Nanou's-magic
Nanou's Forest Little Miss

Nanou's Forest Friends combine two of my favourite things, wood and crochet, in the most magical way. I love the way Nanou brings fallen branches to life then dresses them up in fancy crocheted clothes. See more of Nanou's friend's on Flickr.

If you'd like to get "hooked" too it's definitely worth mentioning again two other people whose sites helped rekindled my interest in crochet. Alice, from Futuregirl; I tried her bracelet pattern early on with success, and Lucy of Attic 24. Lucy's hexagon pattern encouraged me to try new stitches and stretch myself, I even managed a scarf.

I hope you've all enjoyed the weekend as much as I have. Today was spent in the beautiful garden of a local pub (yes the whole day.) It was our last full day with my visiting mom and dad and we were bathed with warm sun while sipping long cool drinks. It was so pretty I had to take a few photos, they may make it to my Flickr at some point soon. 

Have a good week!


Support Craft Hope for Haiti

Dala-bag

Ch_haiti This Lykke Bag has been donated to Craft Hope for Haiti. It just made it into their last day of listings before the organisers take a little break. They've done an amazing job, over $10,000 raised since Friday! If you'd like to contribute too, find the information here. If you'd like to visit the shop and see all the wonderful donations that are still available go here.

I don't know when this little bag will appear in the shop, it may take a day or two as the site has been flooded with donations.

The bag is made from sturdy, antique (Victorian) cotton with a linen finish and has an aqua and white dot lining. It's approx. 8" wide x 11" high (6" handle.) Lykke, the Scandinavian inspired embroidered horse was designed ages ago, he's happy to finally make an appearance.

The sachets (gifts from dear friends) and Grandma Wolf pictured are not included (Grandma Wolf isn't very friendly and she has very big teeth!)

And to see a beautiful artist making some breathtaking art watch this video, you won't be disappointed. Thank you Michelle for the link, you knew I'd love it.

EDIT: Sorry, removed close up image.


It's raining, it's pouring

New-dolly

During my absence we've been hit with serious rain and wind but nothing like up north in Cumbria. Our thoughts are with all of those affected by the terrible floods.

As you can see by the dim light in the photo above, it's still raining here and this poor dolly is waiting for me to get off the computer to put on her hair and make her a dress. She's a larger version of Gracie's doll and will be going off to Oz for the Softies for Mirabel project. I hope Royal Mail won't take too long getting her there as I'm cutting it quite close.

I've kind of been Christmas crafting. A package of projects to help other crafters with their last minute  gift list has been keeping me busy. A pattern for dolly is one of the projects in development - didn't realize sewing patterns were so tricky. This little stitch-up below is also planned as part of another project.

Button-shop
The light on my desk has been burning through midnight and on again before the birds wake and I can't wait to show you the results (hope they look good in daylight ; )

Time just disappears like sand through a sieve this time of year doesn't it?
Last night Gracie said:
Mummy I need a cowboy hat, cowboy clothes and cowboy boots for assembly on Wednesday.
Mummy: That's okay assembly isn't until the 25th so we have a week.
Gracie: No Mummy, the 25th is THIS Wednesday (imagine a very exasperated tone in the 8 year old's voice)

Somehow I lost last week.

New-cast

On the home front, Tris got this cast replaced yesterday with a fetching new blue one, three more weeks - oh my!!! It's just precautionary, he's healed but the doc says he wants it protected a while longer. A cast leads to lots of excuses for children: I can't bathe - my cast, I can't vacuum - my cast, I can't go outside it's too wet - my cast.... Mummy has come up with solutions to all of these things, except vacuuming but that's been swapped with laundry folding.

Felted-dalaSoon I hope to get a chance to make these dala ornaments Pam shows. She uses Pendleton wool and needle felts, they'll be great fun to make. Check out the rest of her site for everything Christmas.
Pam's horse reminds me, there's also a new embroidery pattern coming up in my package.

We've cut down on buying things in our family except for the children so my Christmas gift list seems to be largely a wish list for myself. At the top are these new gorgeous cushions by Geninne. I'm really hoping the London Urban Outfitters will start to carry them, her birds are sublime.

Also topping my list is one of Margie's crochet and sea glass neckaces, but I don't think I'll be able to nip off to Paris to buy one. Perhaps I could have a word with Father Christmas.

Geninne cushionI hope to be back very soon. Have a great Tuesday!