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.