Some Happy Times

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Half term has been and gone, and I took the opportunity to lay down the paint brushes and have some heavenly time out.  Above is a mosaic, capturing some snapshots of that delicious week.  First off, a trip the seaside with my sister and her family; we went to the Norfolk coast and took a long walk on the sea front breathing in the deep gulps of tangy salted air.  The sea was like a mill pond, as calm as you like and dark silhouettes were framed on the shore line as folks walked their dogs, stark against the milky blue sea.

In the park, the aconites were a bright carpet of yellow and a cheery sight for a winter weary soul…there was also time indoors, leisurely breakfasts, time spent baking with my little girl and the acquisition of some new, shiny tins to put our freshly iced fairy buns in.  There were lots of sofa moments too where we just collapsed in front of the telly, where I crocheted or sipped hot, frothy coffee in my pyjamas.

I think we all need time out like this, time away from the computer, from work, from our commitments.  It’s a chance to recharge, reflect and relax.  It was bliss.

Back to work though this week – paintings for the exhibition continue to emerge and I’m on with this one at the moment:

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And I’m also on with some of these…

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These Easter hearts have been a nice little diversion for me, and I continue to sneak the odd one in here and there between my more Serious Paintings.  I am currently offering these through my Facebook Page, so if you are interested in acquiring one for yourself, you are welcome to message me although I must hasten to add that they are very Limited Edition due to time constraints and so only a very small number will be made.

I have some extra time on my hands today, my little girl is at an after school craft club so I’m away now to take advantage of this extra hour, and get busy with my paint brushes again.

See you soon x

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A Little Absence…

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Hello lovely readers.

It’s been a wee while since I posted here in Blogland and I felt I had better bob by to let you know why my posting may be a little sporadic over the coming weeks.

In May, as some of you will know, I have my first solo exhibition and I am busy working towards getting my portfolio of work ready for this as well as keeping my little biz ticking over too.  So, whilst I concentrate on painting, I will most likely be around less than usual.  I realise that I haven’t had much time to respond to comments or visit other Blogs to say Hello for some time now, but please don’t think I’ve forgotten you or that I’m no longer interested – that’s just not the case and I hope you’ll forgive me for my lapses.

I’ll try and do the odd post here and there, to share little bits and bobs of what I’m working on with you all.  I also must confess that my poor old ezine has been shelved somewhat of late, and whilst I usually like to send this out once a month, I have to be honest and say that this too will be a more random offering over the next few months.

I’d like to thank you all so much for your visits dear readers, I appreciate all of you who come by and read my little musings and I promise that once my pictures are hung in the gallery that normal service, will at least for the most part, be happily resumed.

With love

Julia x

Posted in art

Snow, yarn and other such ramblings

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There’s been a spot of colourful hooky going on in these parts.

After a bit of pootling on Pinterest and various and delightful craft blogs, I discovered a newish craze for granny square blankets emerging.  Aha! I thought; I could do with one of those very things for my own sweet bed!  However, Christmas was upon us, and I had neither the time nor inclination to contemplate a new blanket project, so I filed the idea away for future reference…fast forward to January, and I eventually caved in and bought a new stash of Stylecraft Special DK wool to set about making a granny square blanket of my very own.  My heart had been well and truly taken the moment I cast my eyes upon this beautiful blanket here although there are many fine specimens to be found upon the interweb as I’m sure you will discover.

I cannot lie to you, I was so smitten with Sandra’s colourway that I ordered pretty much the same shades of wool that she had used for her blanket.  And it’s coming on a treat; its a fine way to pass a happy hour on a winters eve, curled up on the sofa watching Miranda, gigglesnorting like billy-o and knocking up a few squares in deliciously vintage coloured yarn.

I’m using the join-as-you-go method, fiddly as heck, but saving me a lot of sewing at the end which can be a tad time consuming to say the least.

During the day, I’ve been working my little socks off on some new pieces of art for my solo exhibition…would you like a peek?  You would?  Here you are then:

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The Coastguard Cottages

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Beside the Waves

I also have a plan to create some coastal inspired characters on some small box canvases, with an element of collage and stamped text about them.  I’m mighty excited by this sudden flurry of inspiration and I’m making sure I write down lots of notes about these ideas in my book, should they happen to dissolve and disappear from my busy little head forever.

After a colourful week, our world suddenly turned very grey and white.  The snow finally came to our little corner of the world and we decided that we would go out and enjoy ourselves enormously.

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There was sledging and snowman girl making, the obligatory snowball fights and wanderings down the back garden to see the river which had turned into a magical winter wonderland…

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I love the sculptural shapes of the branches and seed heads, and that glorious blue sky!

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As I work, I see my little feathered friends making more frequent visits to the feeder (which is hung a couple of feet away from my window).  I love to watch them, and wonder how something so small can survive such terribly cold nights…

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Another feathered soul paid us a visit too…can you spot him?  He’s a regular visitor, and can often be seen stooping in the shallows, waiting to catch a plump trout for his lunch.

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Back inside after our snowy meanderings, hot chocolate of the best kind, topped with the squirtiest of cream and tiniest of marshmallows is consumed and jammies are put on.  It’s only 3 o’clock in the afternoon, but it’s a snow day from school and there’s no need to be going out again; may as well just cosy up indoors and do a spot of painting with C…

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…and on a whim, I dug out some papier mache style hearts and painted a whimsical little Valentine’s scene.  These hearts are secretly magnets, but would look rather dandy in a nice box frame I think.

So my week is only just begun, but already it is filled with the simplest and nicest of things.  And if it needed icing on the cake, it came in the form of an email from my lovely agent, who wrote to tell me that three pieces of my artwork have been accepted for licensing by a client, and therefore shall become cards or suchlike.  I am delirious with delight, because this is another one of my dreams come true.

And dreams do come true you know, if you believe they will.

I’ll see you again soon, have a wonderful week and thank you for coming to see me today.

Love J x

Gently Does It…

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I’m easing myself gently back into my work this week after that lovely Christmas holiday.  My daughter has gone back to school and the house seems ominously quiet, so yesterday I busied myself with a spot of de-cluttering, starting with my bedroom which was anything but a peaceful sanctuary for sleep and more like a dumping ground for Homeless Objects and outgrown baby toys.

I unearthed quite a few half finished paintings which I sent for recycling (sometimes you just know they’re never going to be anything else other than half finished), and discovered a stack of canvases and mounts I’d forgotten all about.  I also found a new home for my fabric stash, which up to now has been stored rather untidily in a pile of carrier bags but is now folded into neat piles in a drawer.

I must confess, I was rather ruthless in my de-cluttering.  There was a heck of a lot of stuff that got thrown out or put in the recycling bin and I was shocked at the amount of junk I’d managed to accumulate.  There’s a huge pile of books and clothes for the charity shop, and a local childcare centre will be the new home for some of the baby toys which we’d hung on to.  Once I’d finished the hard graft, I burned some delicious essential oils to bless the room if you like, and it really did feel very fresh and new again.  Last night I had the best nights sleep I’d had in ages, uninterrupted and full of lovely dreams.  Waking up to see a little jug of flowers sitting on a vintage embroidered mat was heaven I can tell you.

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I find the helpful advice of the Flylady to be superb in all things to do with keeping house, so if you’re feeling the itch to Spring clean, check out her website.  Another great resource if you don’t naturally lean towards chores and the like is this book, Housework Blues by Danielle Raine.

Having a gentle week pottering and decluttering (which is such a marvellous thing to do as opposed to throwing yourself head first back into normality) has found me digging through my paintings and sketch books, and a painting I started work on way back last year is now resurfacing.  It’s called The Apple Pickers (the picture at the top of this post) and I’m really pleased with how it’s coming along.  You can just about make out the figures if you look carefully, as well as a veggie patch and a greenhouse.  This painting is an acrylic on paper and will be part of my solo exhibition at the Studio 61 Gallery in May this year.  I’ve also got a lovely idea for a box canvas, which I’m going to start work on next – again it’s a coastal themed piece but I’m going to be introducing an element of collage to it.

Something I’ve been longing to do for a while now, but never made the time for previously is the creation of an online art workshop.  I’ve finally got around to ordering myself a nice tripod for my camcorder, so that I can start making some tutorials.  I’m also planning a fully illustrated e-book to accompany the course, and am hoping to release this in the next few months.  I’ll keep you posted on this as things progress.

Before I go, I have to introduce you to a new resident who’s come to live in our little home.

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Meet Muffin.

Muffin is a Sheltie guinea pig (one of those with the soft, long hair) and the most adorable little chap you could ever wish to meet.  For the last few months we have been ‘umming and ‘ahhing about having a pet, but finally relented and went to get him on Saturday.  It was a huge surprise for our little girl who had been pleading with us for ages to let her have something furry to care for.  We are all enchanted by him, his little squeaks and bouts of popcorning (the ecstatic leaps into the air, apparently done when extremely happy) have rendered us helpless with delight.  I can’t quite imagine life without him now, he’s definitely part of the family.

I’ll be back soon, with some news about a new crochet project I’ve started.

Thanks for visiting,

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2013 Blueprint – how to make your dreams real in an instant

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Happy 2013 to you.

As a new year dawns and unfolds, it’s a time when people start making resolutions.  A new year is a natural new beginning, and a time to turn inward to look at our deepest dreams, hopes and desires.  And as we begin to feel excited about the future, we begin to make goals.  We begin to dream about what life will be like as we journey through our new year; how things that we have long yearned for will suddenly become a reality…except….except…

…except it very often doesn’t.

The trouble that I’ve had with goals in the past is that they’ve always been so damn far away in that just out of reach future of mine.  And to be perfectly truthful, most of my goals were things that floated around in my head, I never put the energy into making them happen because they felt too huge, too far away and too impossible.

Hmmmm….does this resonate with any of you?

I had a wake up call recently, I realised that although I did what I loved for a living, had a nice home and a smashing family, I was mostly plodding on through my life without making conscious choices to improve it.  One year would meld itself into the next and nothing would change.  I started to feel stuck, bored, slightly depressed and experienced feelings of IS THIS IT???

Disillusioned with far off goals that never seemed to materialise I decided that I had to start working with the small stuff first, the day to day stuff.  I knew I could start to improve all areas of my life and make changes to things that didn’t feel so good anymore.  We’re forever growing and expanding as people, so it stands to reason that at some point we’re going to outgrow certain habits, ways of doing things, ways of being.

I needed a way to get the ball rolling so that I could see instant results (for that feel good factor) and that meant working with smaller goals that I could make actionable immediately.  I decided that each day would be a blueprint of happy inducing things, and that instead of living with one foot in the past and one foot in the future I would try and remain poised in my present and enjoy the 24 hours that I’d been gifted with in the best ways possible.

I can apply my blueprint to all areas of my life ~ family, work, leisure, self study, diet and exercise; and I can choose the best of every option available to me, the options that make me feel good, that will make my day happy and fulfilled and become a blueprint for the future.  By choosing things that feel like the Best Choice for me, I am setting a pattern for the future – and if at any time my blueprint feels out of kilter with what makes me feel good, then I can just tweak it to suit.  My new habits will become a natural way of living in time and as I come to expect the best from each day, life seemingly gets bigger and better.  When we raise our expectations of what we want from life, life will deliver.

Creating a new blueprint for your life need not cost much money – you might decide that you want to just feel happier each day and start keeping a gratitude journal to write about all the stuff that lights you up.  A commitment to eating healthier one day at a time doesn’t have to cost much more than what you spend on your groceries now and the pressure of a diet disappears when you’re living consciously one day at a time.  You won’t need to spend a fortune on a  fancy gym membership that costs the earth to commit to a bit of daily exercise – start walking, get yourself a workout DVD to do at home or find a local class that you can attend, and family time will become much more enriching when you become present and focus upon the time spent together, one day at a time.

Commit to it, and create your blueprint for 2013, one day at a time.

However, a word about Big Goals That Live in the Future…

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I still have plenty of long term goals, they’re sitting on my radar and they give me something to positively aim for alongside being happier and more fulfilled on a daily basis.  I’m going to be having my first solo exhibition this year, at the Studio 61 Gallery in Derbyshire this May.  This is a BIG dream of mine that I’ve had for eons and suddenly the opportunity was presented to me to make it come true.  However, to achieve this dream (because it ain’t gonna manifest on it’s own), I have to invest both energy and action – this comes from integrating the painting time into my daily blueprint, and then taking action to make it happen.

And I think that’s the magic word – action.  Goals and dreams are wonderful things to have and to aim for, but we need to take action to make them real – they very rarely happen as if by magic, there’s generally some input needed from us.  For some, these actions feel insurmountable or nigh on impossible, but by breaking it all down into small and achievable chunks, you can get there.

One day at a time.

Take your dream or your goal, and break it down into chunks.  Ask yourself what you need to do to achieve your goal and then write down how you best can do it.  And while you journey towards your big goal, start creating your daily blueprint and see how things instantly change for the better.

I hope your 2013 shines for you, and becomes your best yet.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

I’ve been busy of an evening this last week…

…hugely inspired by Attic 24’s latest creation, I felt a sudden need for a crocheted Christmas wreath of my own.  So the yarn basket was ransacked for suitable colours and once I had a decent pile (variations of DK yarn; acrylic, merino and cashmerino) I got busy making a long stripy rectangle to cover my polystyrene wreath (it’s a flat backed one which I picked up quite cheaply in Hobbycraft).

I wasn’t quite sure how the crocheted rectangle would fit around the wreath, but as Lucy reassured us on her blog; despite it looking like it won’t,  it somehow just does – and it did.

My wreath was going to need some adornments too…and there was a sudden flurry of pom-pom making the other night, and cutting out of holly from felt.  A little jaunt to Homebase resulted in a top find of some Jingle Bells – only £2.99 for a tube of 10, and a chance find of some mini decorative baubles on wires in Paperchase were just too good to ignore.

Once home, I raided the button tin and ribbon stash, and got busy.

I sewed the Jingle Bells on, but the rest of the ribbons, pom-poms and holly leaves are pinned on.  It’s very easy to attach them to the polystyrene using pins, and you can move things about a bit too, if you change your mind.

I think the mini decorative baubles and bells are lovely, they really catch the light.

We decided that it would be nice to have our new wreath hanging on the door which leads into our lounge, where everyone would see it best:

I’m so pleased with how this turned out, and I’m already planning another one for Springtime, full of juicy colours, flowers and lots more pom-poms!

As we huddle indoors of an evening now, and cosy up on the sofa under our crochted blankets, watching telly and reading books by the glow of candles and Christmas lights, we are grateful to be tucked up warm with one another as the weather has turned decidedly cold.

Yesterday morning there was a thick frost which glittered beautifully in the rising sun.  The trees down the valley were gauzy white; the sky was a soft shell pink and the air was very still.  As I made my way down to the little wall to peek at the river, a flock of wintering goosanders that had been swimming downstream suddenly took off into the air, their beating wings a percussion of noise which broke the freezing silence.

So it’s no surprise that we like cosying up in our little home together…

We love hunkering down of a Sunday afternoon to watch Elf and other favourite Christmas films, and we’ve also been enjoying a bit of Festive Makery together too…

This last Sunday saw an industrious bout of paper chain making (these are from Phoenix Cards), which we strung up alongside some of those funky and fabulous retro tissue paper balls.  I’ve seen these featured in a couple of magazines and on the internet but found them way too expensive to justify shelling out on.  Then we discovered some in Wilkinsons for just a pound a piece (the larger ones are still good value at £1.75 for a whopping 30cm sized ball) and we brought home some cheery red and white ones to go with our paper chains.

We think it looks very cool.

So, the house is finally decorated; the order book is closed and I’m winding up the last few hand painted goodies to go out to their new homes.  It’s been a whirlwind these last few weeks and I am now looking forward enormously to relaxing and enjoying the holidays.

I like this time of year, as we head towards the end of December.  It’s a very good time for Creative Percolation, and as I step back from my painting for a while to spend time with family and friends, I usually find new ideas blooming.  These are written down in my planner, for things to come back to in January.  But for now, the games will be brought downstairs and we’ll play Monopoly and Guess Who; we’ll eat too many mince pies and drink a tad too much mulled wine.  We’ll see the little ones sing in the choir at church on Christmas Eve and go to the panto on New Years Eve.  We’ll look forward to driving out to Castleton in Derbyshire to see the little trees lit up, a tradition almost as old as I am (my parents would take me and my sister, and now as we take our own daughter).  I like the gentle traditions of this time of year, and also the new ones that my own family are creating alongside them.

Sending love and peace to you and yours, wherever you are in the world.

Christmas is Coming and What 2012 Brought

After a very busy few weeks working on Christmas orders, I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and am starting to wind down.  I must say, I’m looking forward to my Christmas preparations enormously; and although we have already trimmed the tree there is still much to be done.  I’m looking forward mostly to sitting and making those decorations I’ve been dreaming about for the last few months, making a new Christmas table cloth from an old cotton bed sheet, and baking Christmas cookies.

Because it’s the simple things that make me happiest.  I like the homely feel these little activities bring and I like the cosiness of my house at this time of year. There’s nothing nicer than that time of day when the Christmas lights softly glow as the early evening twilight blankets the sky.

I like sitting in the big armchair with a cup of hot chocolate and a mince pie, and watching films like The Snowman whilst wrapped in a cosy crocheted blanket.  I like looking through my recipe and crafting books ~ at the moment I’m particularly enjoying Granny Chic by Tif Fussell and Rachelle Blondel; it’s crammed with page after page of tempting delights to create for yourself and your home.  Like I said, it’s the simple things that make me smile.

Last weekend, we decorated our tree and with a few of the tinier leftover baubles I decided to make a table decoration using the twigs I had saved from my Easter Tree.

What do you think?

Using some mini baubles and a felt bead necklace (that sadly proved too itchy to wear but was perfect as a mini garland), along with some tiny crocheted circles we were heartily chuffed with our efforts.  The reindeer was something I treated myself to at the Country Living fair in London, but you can buy them online from here.

I *love* making things from found bits and bobs.  It’s very satisfying to know that items which don’t really have much of a purpose can be pulled together to create something pretty.

As the year draws to its inevitable close, I find myself looking back and recalling some of its moments…like the day I stood on the sand island on Portminster beach and for a few minutes there was nothing but the warmth of the sun, the soothing sound of the waves and the calling of the gulls.  I remember feeling very peaceful and happy, and even now when I remember that day I get the same feeling again.

I remember meeting new friends for the first time, and feeling like I’d met the tribe of chums I’d long been yearning for – savvy, funny and bright, wise, clever and creative.  We are scattered across the UK, but have forged a bond that will endure.

And then there were some more difficult hurdles to overcome.  My partner lost his Mum in October, and I remember that heartbreaking drive to South Wales vividly…it felt as if something hugely dark and inescapable were looming up behind us and there was a feeling of being at a loss, of grasping at hope although futile, of losing all sense of normality.  We spoke soothing words to each other to try and ease the painful reality of what was to come.

We made it to the hospital in time and we will be forever grateful that he was able to speak to her before she drifted into a sleepy coma.  She died on his birthday in the early hours, and there was a single clap of thunder and flash of lightening around the time of her passing that nobody could really explain.  She was a feisty woman with a heart of gold and a marvellous sense of humour which she has passed on to her son and grand daughter in turn.  She gave so much and was the most generous spirit that will be missed enormously.

It seems in some ways that 2012 was a year of losses, of surmounting hurdles and moving on.  I lost my Literary Agent earlier this year which although at the time was upsetting and disappointing, has left me free to pursue other avenues with my art.  We don’t always see the gifts in loss at the time, but when we can accept the loss and start to move on then the blessings are revealed.

A long term friendship also dissolved, and I’m at pains to say that this was a very difficult journey.  There came a point where I felt the friendship was becoming toxic; I felt drained and tired being around this person and I began to realise that this friendship was no longer making me happy.

Despite several attempts to make the friendship work, it soon became clear that this wasn’t an option and sadly it ended very sourly.  I experienced fear, intimidation, guilt, sadness and finally apathy.  I’m now much happier without this person in my life but am still grateful for the good times that we shared in the early years of getting to know one another.  I have emerged a much stronger person who now understands personal boundaries a little better.  I have strict rules on what I will and will not tolerate from another human being; perhaps if I hadn’t tried so hard to please and to be 100% available to this person in the first place then maybe the friendship would have worked out differently.  Or not.  We are who we are, and sometimes we need to move away from someone in order to find the people who we truly fit with.
And so now I look towards 2013, and I am full of optimism for what’s to come.  I have plans to create another Wish List of things to achieve next year – I started doing this in January of this year and it’s amazing how when we write down our dreams and our goals we seem to add fuel to them actually becoming  a reality.  They can be large or small, it doesn’t matter – but getting them out of our heads and onto paper creates real magic.

Some of the things on my Wish List that I achieved this year were:

1:  Spend Summer Solstice at the beach – we did, we were in Cornwall and it was beautiful!

2: Get an Indian Head Massage – done, and it was terrific and even more than I could have hoped for – more Indian Head Massages in 2013!!

3: Go to the Country Living Spring Fair – I had looonnnnng wished to go to this and this year I did!! And I went to the Christmas one too!

4:  Get an eye test – a pretty ordinary thing I know, but oh so necessary and something I’d put off for eons!! I booked myself in and huzzah, the eyes are top bonza!!

5:  Get a Kindle – I got one for my birthday, and although I’m very much a paper book person and still have a vast collection of books, I find my Kindle to be one of the best inventions in the world ever and wouldn’t dream of being without it.

6:  Go to the Brudenell Hotel in Aldebrough for coffee and sit and watch the sea through the windows – done.

7:  See my friend Kirsty, who lives in Cornwall and whom I haven’t seen in TEN YEARS!! – Done!! We went to the zoo with my daughter, it rained most of the day but we didn’t care and it was the loveliest feeling in the world to see her again, the nicest thing being that it felt like yesterday that we had last seen one another.

Some of the things I didn’t get around to…

1:  Sea swimming.  It was just tooooo cold this year.

2:  Kayak on a lake – my dream was to go up to the Lake District and do this, but the right time never presented itself.  Maybe next year…

3:  Make a proper Chilli Hot Chocolate.  Actually I plan to do this later on today 🙂

 

I think I’m going to love you and leave you now, finish up on my orders and sneak in a little Christmas Hooky time by the tree.

Have a lovely weekend, wherever you are in the world.

Simple Lovely Things

It’s been a month of Simple Lovely Things.

From the first bite of a Russet apple, to warming ourselves around a glowing orange bonfire and watching jewel coloured fireworks bloom and glitter against a dark night sky.

I’ve loved seeing the leaves turn colour; the woods suddenly awash with a rainbow of colour, and in contrast, the sketch like silhouettes of seed heads against an afternoon sky soaked with the promise of a wind whipped squall.

Something else special happened this month.  I went to London to meet a group of women I had never met in person before (apart from one)…but let me start from the beginning and put you in the picture.

Many moons ago, a few of us arty crafty sorts began chatting on Facebook; we had connected through our Pages and over the weeks and months that followed began to chat on a daily basis, each providing a bit of conversation in an often quiet and solitary lifestyle (as it is for the folks who work from home alone), help and suggestions for business related things, a space to have a moan and a groan, all interspersed with huge doses of laughter.  I have to confess, and I know it may sound strange, but these women have reduced me to tears of hysterical laughter many times as I sat at my laptop working.

It came to pass that we decided to meet up.  There would be seven of us altogether, travelling from all corners of  the UK to meet in London on that damp, rain drenched morning at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, for the Country Living Christmas Fair.

Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting six kindred spirits?  Six people who all instantly connect with one another?  Have you ever had a day with six strangers, who in the space of a few hours become Very Special Friends?

from L ~ R: Sarah (Kate’s lovely sister), Kate from Kate Creates, Andrea from Polka, Helen from Kindred Rose (who features in the December edition of Country Living magazine), Me, Marna from Little A Designs and Roslyn from Roslyn Mitchell Designs.

From that morning, til we left in the fairy-light sprinkled night, we talked and laughed constantly, and then laughed some more.  Around each corner was another discovery to OOhhHH and AaahHHH at; Christmassy food and drink to be sampled, decorations to be bought, and gifts to be taken home.

Crafty Chums

The Christmas Table by Susie Watson Designs

The bustle of the Fair

Later that afternoon, we went for a meal at an Italian restaurant.  Resting our weary feet and sipping a welcoming glass of wine I mentioned that the famous wool shop, Loop, was in Islington somewhere, and wondered whether I’d have time to find it before my train left.  It didn’t take long to discover where it was; literally just across the road and down Camden Passage as it turned out!  There were murmers of excitement, and we all agreed to go.

We finished our meal and crossed the busy high street, crammed with big red buses, stores and restaurants and then disappeared down a quiet little lane.  We were suddenly in another world, quieter, and lit by twinkling fairy light stars that were strung up above between the quaint buildings.  Tiny shop windows beckoned, full of beautiful things which seemed suffused with a warm golden light.  There were candle lanterns on the pavement, the scent of delicious food and hot coffee, the air felt full of magic and glamours and suddenly nobody wanted to go home.

And then we found Loop.  I think it might be easy to walk past it if you weren’t looking for it.

A peek through the window of Loop

Loop, for those of you who don’t have a wool infatuation, is a treasure trove of a shop, full to bursting with delicious yarns from all around the globe; those hard to come by brands, those softer than a feather skeins, those rainbow infused balls that sat in plump stacks of colour co-ordinated lovely-ness.  There was a Sophie Digard scarf hanging up by the counter too, and I gazed in awe at the tiny stitches, the beautiful detail, the inspiring colours.

I confess to buying not a single thing, but I drank it all in and next time I go to London, I shall take myself there with some spending money and treat myself to something special.

All too soon it seemed, it was time to go and catch our various buses and trains.  At the tube station we said our goodbyes, all of us slightly teary eyed and sad to be leaving.  Many hugs later we were on our way, each of us a little bit richer from that day, with the wealth of  new friendships still warm in our pockets.

I feel very lucky to have the pleasure of having those six fabulous ladies in my life, and already we have plans to meet again.  I can’t wait 🙂

Meanwhile…

I’ve been busy making a new range of decorations…

And they’re proving rather popular – so much so, I haven’t had a chance to get them on my website yet as the ones Ive had, have sold!

After a week or so where I felt I had run out of steam, and felt utterly devoid of New Ideas, my friend Helen told me to take some time out away from work things.  As it happened, my sister was visiting and it was the school holidays so I made merry for a few days and forgot about everything.

And that’s when the magic happens, when you’ve forgotten about everything, left the stress behind and chosen to enjoy life for a bit.  The ideas creep in quietly and then suddenly, there you have it!

Little wooden heart decorations, hand painted and signed, some stamped with a vintage style typewriter stamping set text, varnished and given a pretty cord ribbon to hang up with.  I couldn’t be more thrilled with the response these have had, and if you’re interested, I’m currently taking orders through my Facebook Page for them.  Just drop me a message if you’d like to get on my list (my order book is currently still open) 🙂

So, Id best be away and get back to work – I’ve got some Christmas music playing (I know, I know it’s only November but it really does help to get me in the mood when Im painting those cheery little robins!!) and there’s a big mug of hot tea waiting for me.  Thanks for dropping by to see me today – oh, and one more thing – if you haven’t signed up already to receive my Art Ezine which I send out each month, there’s still time to do so for this months issue…there’s a very special preview of another brand new Christmas product that Im launching, so get your hands on your copy here!  **Please do add me to your contacts list so you receive my mails please!**
Right, Im off.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again soon.

Vintage Flower Doily Garland

Once upon a time, I discovered a crochet artist called Sophie Digard.  I fell into immediate rapturous love with her intricate lace like scarves; an alchemy of design and colour that had the inspiration levels soaring into overdrive!  I had never worked with cotton before, but decided it was something that I’d like to try crocheting with very much indeed.  My dear old Nan used to crochet doilies when she was alive, and these too held the same fragile allure for me.  Such care had been taken with the beautiful patterns, the elegant stitches creating a floral masterpiece that would have taken quite some time to create.

The thing was, a doily seemed doable, but a scarf or a shawl made with such fine threads seemed a little daunting.  Did I have the patience to work diligently at something that would surely be a labour of love, an endurance, a project that would take a Very Long Time?

In short, no.

I’m one of these people who sometimes like a quick result, a fast and happy little project that can be quickly made and installed; a project that I can work at alongside my Bigger Blanket projects.  And whilst I love the vintage feel of a crocheted doily, I wanted something a little more colourful and festive; something that would feel inspiring and exciting to look at.  So I decided to make a garland; a flowery, autumnal garland that I could hang in my home.  A garland inspired by my Nan’s pretty doilies and the delicate threads of Sophie’s beautiful creations, indeed it would be a miniature floral doily garland!

Oh the excitement at realising a new project is about to be undertaken!

So a couple of weeks ago, I purchased a handful of skeins of cotton thread.  I spent a happy half hour winding them onto old style wooden laundry pegs (my preferred method of storing all embroidery cottons).  I chose DMC perle cotton skeins #8, but you can also buy this in balls.

And then I dug out my Crochet Motifs book and looked for some pretty doily style flowers to make.

As most of the patterns are from the book, Im sorry to say that I cannot reproduce them here – but if you have the book yourself I can point you in the general direction of the flowers I chose (numbers 41 and 53).

I also designed a little flower myself – for which the pattern is here:

The stitches are written in US terms.

  • Ch4, SS to join to form ring.
  • Ch3, 14DC into ring, SS to join (15 stitches).
  • *Ch5, SS into 3rd stitch along* Repeat ** around circle, until you have 5 half circle loops made from the chain stitches.  SS to finish round in first stitch.
  • *6DC into each half circle loop*  Repeat ** into each loop to make petals, SS to finish and tie off.  Secure ends by sewing into the back of the flower.

You can use this pattern with any yarn of course, but for those of you who’d like to try out the cotton perle flowers that I made here, I used a 2.5 hook.

But now…it’s time for a little Ta~Dah moment!

I’ve hung my little flowery doily garland over some photos and decopatched letters.

What do you think??  I’m rather smitten by it, and am now contemplating making one for my kitchen!  The flowers, although a little fiddly to start with do crochet up quite quickly once you get the hang of working with the cotton (I’m used to working with DK yarn, so it was quite a difference to me and took a little getting used to).  However, I think it’s worth persevering with as the outcome is so delicate and pretty.

To  join your flowers to form a garland, choose a cotton/yarn colour and start by attaching with a SS to the top of a flower; then chain across (I chained 25 here) and SS to join your next flower.  Just carry on in this way until all flowers are attached and finish off with a SS in the top of the last flower, secure and tie in ends.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial; I’m going to love you and leave you now as I feel a big mug of tea coming on!! Thanks for coming by today!

Much love

Autumn’s Pleasures

It’s the time of year when I get the urge to nestle and make my house cosy.  I want to make a new blind for my window and tie backs for my curtains…I have a desire to sort through my fabric stash, and fold it into neat piles whilst dreaming of things I can make with it.  I discover enticing projects in magazines and on Pinterest that I suddenly need to be making.  I want to be cooking delicious, seasonal soups and soul warming food; like French toast on a Sunday morning, gently scorched golden and crisp, and generously dressed with a spoon of my favourite Berries and Cherries jam.

Such simple things like making my home cosy for the colder months, and preparing good food makes me feel very contented.

I also like the colours of this time of year – if ever there were a siren from nature that Summer was up and Autumn was in it’s the glorious rainbow leaves that adorn our trees so briefly, before the high winds have them spiralling and spinning to the ground.  Green melts quietly into the palest of yellow and deepest of ochres; and then the dramatic russets and golds, tarnished with bronze and amber illuminate the stark branches against vivid blue or wildly dark grey skies.  I see firey reds, scarlet and purple ~ the city is ablaze with colour and it’s beautiful.

Out shopping the other day I stumbled upon a bunch of sunflowers, very reasonably priced in my little supermarket I might add,  that were just begging me to take them home.  I put them in a crochet covered jam jar and enjoyed seeing their happy yellow faces enormously.

The simple things…

…like winding crochet cotton onto wooden pegs and planning a little project with those faded, vintage colours on a tiny little hook…something to brighten up my little house…

… and making a warming chicken and vegetable soup to eat whilst escaping amongst the pages of Country Living magazine…

It was whilst I was enjoying this very bowl of soup that the Postie brought me something rather exciting.  I’d been waiting for this particular parcel for some time, with a mixture of trepidation and expectation.  You see, I’d made the decision to have a collection of my art work printed professionally as greetings cards and had sent my images off to a lovely printing company to be turned into proofs.  I was over the moon with how they have turned out, what do you think?

From the Christmas Collection:

From the Coastal Collection:

I’m going to be busy placing an order for these now, and they’ll be available in my Gallery Shop very soon.

There is much to do on the art front; I’m making plans for the work I’ll be taking to the Christmas Fair in December, as well as keeping busy with several commission pieces.  In the midst of all this, I would love to make space to create a brand new Christmas card design – I suppose I’m rather late with this compared to some, but I’m sure I can make it materialise in time if I try!

I wish you all a beautiful weekend, wherever you are in the world.

Psssst!!! Have you subscribed to my monthly Art E-zine yet? I can promise you some wonderful seasonal discounts to come in the next couple of months on my art!  Just complete the box up in the side bar and look forward to it plopping into your inbox x