A treat in London Town

Ceiling of Alexandra Palace with streamers of spun yarn descending

Friday I had an unexpected and fantastic treat. I received email Thursday afternoon from Selvedge about the Knitting and Stitching show taking place in London at Alexandra Palace the following day and weekend. As Selvedge were involved I thought it might be good, and through serendipitous good fortune my friend Claudia and I were able to go to it last minute.

She from Kent and me from Hampshire hopped on early trains and met in town. We knew nothing about the show, had there been more time I'd have researched, though being clueless added to my excitement.

We emerged from the tube station to find a block-long queue for the shuttle service and we realized it was big. Not the patient sorts we legged it up the hill to Alexandra Palace skipping the shuttle, too eager to get there. The entrance to the show hinted at what lay ahead; a full sized knitted sailboat and mountains of hand-spun yarn, amazing! It was enormous, being newbies we didn't know where to start, we simply wandered around the halls in awe. Products for everything knitting and stitching were everywhere, there were workshops and a gallery too.

Knitted sailboat

The day flew by and I feel we only scratched the surface. We didn't even find out there was a gallery until we stopped for a sandwich and met two veterans who told us about it, it was their seventeenth year to attend. Next time I think we'll start with the gallery and see all the artists work, we only saw a tiny part of it.

Hand dyed cotton and silk embroidery floss

I managed to purchase a few special items like some of this hand-dyed thread, Liberty fabric, pretty beads for Gracie and a couple of books. Everything was less expensive than in the shops, special rates for the show.

Mixed-media shoes by Ingried Swan

Here are a couple of the artists exhibits: these shoes and hat were part of a whole outfit made with formed and stitched pages from an Atlas.

Textile themed porcelain

And this very delicate porcelain which is decorated with fabric designs and notions. It's all been fired, there's no actual fabric on the pieces, they just look like there is. Sorry to have not found the artist's name on this one, it was closing time and we were being whisked out the door.

It was a great show and lovely to see the age range attending, from teenagers and groups of school children to grandmothers. Next year if I have a chance to go to this show again I'll know to bring a lunch (the food wasn't great,) start with the gallery and try and go for two of the days in order to take advantage of the workshops.

Window display, characters from Fantastic Mr Fox

The whole day was brilliant and topped off by tumbling back outside in a downpour of rain followed by a sprint straight onto a bus. Then after a quick trip on the underground we hopped off in Covent Garden for a gorgeous Thai meal. While walking to dinner we saw this sweet window display with characters from Fantastic Mr Fox, a favourite Roald Dahl story and soon to be released movie.

The whole day we felt like two kids skiving off school and I can't wait to do it again. If anyone knows of other creative events happening in Southern England please let us know about them. Although I never need an event to go into London, just a willing husband to collect our children from school and feed them, thanks hubby.

I hope you all had exciting weekends too :)

My bunny arrives


A special post from Gracie

On Friday, 12th of December mollychicken sent me a bunny and her baby. We had an arrival tea party for her and here is a picture of her looking at the biscuits.

She came in a box with a little pram, pillow and quilt and it's all really cute. I'm already enjoying playing with her very much.

A few links and thanks!

Embroidered platter

I love to see original work in any and all mediums. Lynette Andreasen creates beautiful metal work, fiber sculpture and jewelry. This is an embroidered silver platter that she recently exhibited and take a look at these amazing commissioned silhouette silver platters she made.

Speaking of original art, the brilliant and beautiful Erin at Design for Mankind has recently launched her first magazine, Mankind Mag. It's a free PDF or available to purchase in print. Erin's got a nose for hunting out new talent and her magazine promises to bring more of all the inspired stuff her blog does.

Mankind mag

I mostly enjoy the global aspect to the Design for Mankind magazine and blog as well as the sneaky peeks at daily lives of artists/designers. Both definitely worth a read.

Pattern on window

Tracey at Giggleface Studios has a superb tinted linen and embroidery tutorial.


Her tutorial is really well written and she has great tips for those wanting to give tinting a try.

Blog award

And thank you kind Tracey for this blog award. I'll get around to passing it on sometime soon - busy wrapping up end of term stuff right now and really looking forward to the Summer break!


Bright and beautiful


I happily bring you a small glimpse of my friend Fi's house.

I was with her for lunch on Wenesday when we had a few hours of bright sun and I snapped some photos, having to leave for the school run left me little time so I'll take more next visit.

1. Her new little art studio house in the garden 2. View out a kitchen window 3. Painting by her nine year old son (yes only nine!) 4. Some posies on the kitchen table 5. Kitty doorstop in the kitchen 6. One of Fi's lovely paintings 7. Small glimpse of her lounge 8. Lunch outside, apple tart for dessert 9. Side of her studio

She and her family have created the sweetest house and garden. Everywhere you look is beauty, inside and out. They only collect things they love and keep only things that are special. It's like walking into the pages of Country Living magazine only better because not a single thing is staged.

There's so much I didn't get to show you, my camera and I will visit again soon :)

PS - Sorry for the disappearance of Nini Makes this morning. Typepad is not playing nicely today. Hopefully all is well now.


Click here for details on free PDFs and entering the blogiversary contest.

Some favourite things


Glass vessels.

Jam jars, empty terrariums, biscuit jars, spice jars, I love anything see through that holds things. Buttons, vintage buckles, old beads, embroidery floss, ribbons - they all get chucked in.

I love to read about the creative process designers and crafters go through on sites like Design for Mankind and Design Sponge, many people say the same thing - something along the lines of: Everything must have it's place and be tidy or I get into a muddle.

I love a clear workspace too but I'm never far into making something when I find myself in a sea stuff. I really spread out - I need to see things physically to put them together mentally. Problem is, I have a lot of stuff, my collecting habit has a lot to do with this.

Collecting is not to be confused with hoarding. I might be a hoarder when I'm very old if I lose the energy or the ability to make things but not the desire to collect bits and pieces everywhere I go.

Glass vessels are my salvation, they contain yet I can see.


Simple spotty fabric.

Spotty fabric mixes so easily with things I tend to make. It pops up most often on bags, little soft toys and in applique pieces. This red and white is part of my last bit bought several years ago on a trip to Ikea with my mom. It's my favourite, I use it all the time and I want more!

Graphic, colourful illustrations and graphics from the 1940's, 50's and 60's.

I love the simple little picador illustration on this cigar tin. I also love mid-20th century designers and illustrators, among my favourites are Swedish graphic designer Olle Eskell whose artwork seems to be showing up all over the place at the moment. Lefor Openo (real names Marie-Claire Lefort and Marie-Francine Oppeneau the illustration and design team who worked in Paris during the 1960's.) And Jim Flora is another favourite, famous for his jazz album covers for Columbia and RCA. Just look at these incredible woodcuts and engravings that were discovered by his son a couple of years ago.


If you enjoy the work of these artists then you probably already have seen Tim Biskup. Though contemporary, his style is definitely mid-20th century - even down to the colour palette. Little birds like his are the subject of many of my own doodles, I draw and stitch them everywhere, but his colours and compositions are brilliant. This tiny little book of 100 paintings is packed with fun - every time I crack it open it makes me smile.

I came across these items while clearing my space once again. Had to start with the drawers in my sewing table, turned-upside down when we moved.


Now they're usable once more.

Land of wonders


What a week we had.


And now home. We've returned to lots of new little neighbours.


And snow... for crying out loud - IT'S APRIL!!!


And yet more snow.


Watch out!


A bit of a shock after this.

Italy was magic, just being away was magic. Not even a 24 hr tummy bug dampened our spirits. We did the things that every average Joe Traveller does in Tuscany. Climbed the Leaning Tower, visited David and ate way too much gelato.

Though I've been before, it was way better this time. This time I could listen to the very audible "ooohs and aaahs" of our children seeing these things for the first time, and what's even better - they appreciated every drop of unadulterated beauty that surrounded them. Well, OK not every drop, Renaissance paintings in their hundreds were a bit too much ("... yea mum, it's another angel - and I really don't care who painted it") but the sculpture, architecture and atmosphere were happily absorbed, especially if there was climbing involved.

Dscn0302_3Sorry for the tourist holiday snaps - this one I had to remember. Don't actually remember taking it because my eyes were closed, hence the angle.

We were at the top of the Leaning Tower, most people don't go up the last top bit - unless they have an eight year old, who is really only six but six year olds aren't aloud to go up the tower, so that day she was eight. My legs turned to jelly, but not hers.


Been wondering how the childrens' sketch books will be received during show-and-tell, anatomically correct drawings of David included.

Also wondering, does anyone dedicate years to the creation of just one piece of art any more? The David took Michelangelo three years to complete. Seen by millions, it's over 500 years old and still standing, and still very, very beautiful.

Must get back to mountains of laundry or we'll all be sporting birthday suits round here - and it won't be as pretty, trust me ;)

Spring peaking round the corner


Spring is in the air around here, we've had sunshine - a lot of sunshine.

Here are a couple of little cards made with scraps. The bodies are from a very pretty used piece of gift wrap, button eyes, lace scraps for wings and raffia legs. Though I made these blank they'd be nice for Easter.

The template I used for the clay Christmas robins could be adapted for these cards, download away.

One of these went off as a VERY belated thank you to Nicky who kindly donated a prize for our Christmas fair raffle. She owns a couple of shops that sell my favourite clothes. Thank you again Nicky :)

I'm a whole-hearted supporter of the better late than never theory - for obvious reasons.

Here's an unrelated, yet nothing short of amazing little treat. Check out this gallery of work by the sand artist Jim Denevan and hold on to your jaw because it will drop ; )

Paper cut love


It's a bit late for a Valentine show and tell, but I'm finally back online! I was so pleased with this little paper cut I made Paul for Valentine's day that I must post it so I can remember it.

I seem to have a serious bird and heart thing going on. All my designs have birds or hearts creeping in somewhere - probably because they're simple forms and therefore quick to produce.

I gave a few tips here on how to make these paper cuts. I really must find a good source for thin paper, the paper I've been using is a bit too thick to keep my design fluid, but I'm still pleased with the outcome.

I generally buy paper in bulk at these shops here in the UK, but I need to find a good local source for different weights and textures to make these paper cuts.

Linocut1_3A big thank you to Ally who ran a print workshop for mums recently. She's another local art teacher and so lovely, It was fun to be a participant. Here is one of my prints - no surprise with the subject matter.

It's a simple lino cut, but I hadn't done one for ages, it reminded me of how similar lino cuts are to paper cuts. Both involve simplified graphics with bold and usually surprising results. I need some serious practice with the tools, but I was still happy with this first attempt.

This was much more free form than my paper cuts have been, with very little preplanning or sketching involved.

Angie Lewin has beautiful, contemporary lino cuts. To feel truly inspired look at this gallery of work which involves multiple impressions, cuts and colours - bloomin gorgeous!

Elizabeth Rashley is another favourite. I especially love her fairy tale images. Art in Devon has a short interview with her and she discusses how she works.

The process was so relaxing and immediate I found myself wondering why it's been so long since I've done these. The supplies are inexpensive and easy to come by too, I'll definitely be trying to squeeze in a printing project for my class this year, I'm sure they'll enjoy it as much as I have.

Shop love & seasonal wishes

Shop_2Now I know this little excerpt may be a bit of a tease for those outside the UK, but if Kent appears on your itinerary in the future, shop here. Frank is an artist and maker's dream. A lovely place to buy great work and be inspired by truly amazing British made craft.

The shop stocks work by many artists well known to craft blog lovers like Julie Arkell and Rob Ryan. Located in Whitstable, it's surrounded by fantastic foodie spots too, like my favourite deli, Williams & Brown, tiny but stocked with perfection.Interiorb

Thank you to my new friend Heikke for introducing my products to the shop. If you do visit Frank, look out for a seasonal Nini Makes design. I currently aspire to making time for crafting more often. It'd be good fun to have more items behind the Frank door, if for no other reason than to visit and buy the other lovely craft there.

This has always been my busiest time of year for work related projects, this year is no different. I wish I could spend time making all my gifts and preparing for the season, though there was a time my handmade efforts were not so well received. Quote from sister 1989 "You're not making our gifts again this year are you?" Imagine her disappointment finding out I had.

If I did have spare hours I'd take part in this at Sew, Mama, Sew!, great inspiration for makers out there. But I don't, lucky you Patty - probably won't be making your gift this year.

holidaytraditions2007button copia /

I will however be taking part in this little holiday group put together by the wonderful Meg at Montessori By Hand. It involves swapping stories of Christmas holiday traditions as well as a bit of handmade goodness, looking forward to it Meg!

And a big thank you to the lovely Amy at Gift of Green for naming Nini Makes "One Sweet Treat to Read." In the immortal words of my maternal grandmother, back-atcha! ; )

A family note: Congratulations Gamaiel and Rebecca on the birth of amazing little Isei. And to big brother Pete, get better soon!