Friday, 30 November 2012

December optimism

As the sun sets on the last day of November here on the South East of England we are counting our blessings and snuggling up inside. The frost arriving this morning made me feel spirited and grateful for the stark bare trees, the twinkle of sunlight on icicles and the full moon still hanging in the sky as we drove westwards towards school and work.
I realised again that I had the gift of life, a life I can choose to connect with people and things filled with powerful and unspoken sentiments which can go far beyond expectations. My humbled journey with people suffering with their diagnosis and trying to absorb every moment as if each one is their whole life. I was reminded again at that moment that I have to live life as fiercely as I can.
So, tomorrow we will begin December with our new Advent calender pockets that I made from old orange curtains, a shirt my sister gave me years ago, a few old doilies and some fabric from my stash. Each pocket will be filled with a surprise goody, a chocolate and an inspirational message and/or a "do something" suggestion like decorate the tree, make gingerbread men, make a Christmas cracker, compose and sing a silly festive song, make some mulled wine, make doily snowflakes etc etc. Andy, Alice and I will have a pocket to open every third day till the 24th December. A fun, embracing family thing to do till Christmas.

How about you?
Are you looking forward to December?
Are you planning to have an advent calender?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

While its grey outside

My goodness, how awful is all this wet, grey, gloomy weather? I am thinking of all those who might have been affected by the buckets of rain here in the UK and being at risk of floods, such a difficult time for so many people. I hope and pray that the weather starts to let up soon as it is also not helping with keeping dark moods at bay. Andy finds it difficult with little sunshine and the evenings drawing in so soon.

So, while its grey outside...we are keeping it colourful inside

My home seems to have turned into a "making factory" with Christmas getting closer and closer. I'm full of creative ideas and plans but NEED more TIME please! Working full time is exhausting enough and I like to create in the evenings after all the eating, bathing, reading, homework bits are out of the way and we can relax as a family. The temptation to stay up into the wee hours is very hard to resist but I have learnt my lesson the hard way in the past with what a lack of sleep does to me .... Mrs. Ratbag is what I turn into.

I've been crocheting (soon to be logged on this here blog)

A little clickety click of knit knit knit

And I have braved being up in the chilly attic with my hat, fingerless gloves and scarf on, sewing a little something for December {soon to be logged here too}
As you can see I'm a rather busy bee, thanks for stopping by and saying hi. A huge big thanks for your wonderful comments on my last post logging my retro circle blanket, I'm very excited to be packaging this up and giving it away at the end of the year.

Has your house turned into a "making factory" lately? 
Got any elves helping you out? I am hoping my little elf will be helping me with Christmas card production line in the next few days, until then cheerio and keep colourful xox Penelope

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Retro baby blanket


It's only me with my finished baby blanket

The retro blanket I spoke about here for the first time

Crocheted circle by circle and square by square from this pattern 

All lovingly crocheted together using this method and then crocheted around and around and around to make a border

Eventually to become this little lovely 100% woolly alpaca baby blanket

I love how you drape and the heaviness of warmth you give little blanket

I shall especially miss your mustard-ness when you get wrapped up and given to a special "new mum-to-be" friend

Goodbye little blanket, it's been great getting to know you.

Thank you so much for popping by it's really lovely to have you here! Oh, and a big warm woolly welcome to new followers too
See you soon

Sunday, 18 November 2012

An owl is born

Name: Mabel (named by Alice)
Born: 17/11/2012
Breed: Plushie Nooshie species
Created by: Penelope
Fabric: Felted Witney blanket, coloured felt, cotton, yarn and buttons
Stuffed with: Filling from an old pillow
Eyes: Crochet circles with blue dotty buttons found in stash and recommended by creators daughter Alice
Beak: Cotton crochet triangle, size recommended by Alice
Feathers: Exotic coloured felt hand sewn onto owl breast with red cotton
Missing: Wings and feet poor thing

Cuteness: 6/10 not as cute as the creator would have liked; should the eyes be bigger?closer together?
Husbands thoughts: Blank stare, unable to express horror? or amazement at wife's multiple talents?!! (ha ha)
Character: Better in person versus staring wide eyed in this photo
Squeeze-ability: Super sonic
Smell: Woolly and wonderful
Siblings: None as yet, on the 7th day the creator had a rest :o)
Destination: Connie aged 6 months for a cuddly Christmas


Friday, 16 November 2012


Outside stage at the De La Warr Pavilion on our seafront on Wednesday late afternoon
It feels like "ground hog day" around here with me thanking God for the weekend again...where on earth did the last week go? Gosh,I have been busy and need to catch up on my sleep BUT I so want to finish the multiple many handmade projects I have on the go at the moment. I have a queue of ideas waiting patiently in my notebook that I carry round with me and just need to get busy making and finishing. 

However, in the meantime I have been pretty fortunate with some Charity shop loot in the past week which will contribute to enabling me to bring some of my ideas in my notebook to fruition.

So first up... 

An old Witney 100% wool blanket, all creamy with pink stripes for the princely sum of £1. It's a little scratchy but I plan to felt this in my washing machine this weekend and get making. I'm so excited because I just love these blankets and although it seems sacrilege to chop it up, I think my multiple plans for it will prove to be worth it.

Next up is this little Hornsea deer vase for the sweet sum of 50p

I have always wanted one of these, it feels like my Holy Grail of kitch vintage and it's strangely cute too. I will be sure to put blossoms in the vase come the Spring.

Then I found this little wooden guy in a dusty corner for 20p

I like these little wooden soldiers for the tree there is something very nostalgic about them for me. I found one last Christmas too and popped him onto my wreath I made for our front door here. I look forward to adding this little guy to our tree decoration collection. 

Last but not least, for a yarnaholic a little Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed - Aran yarn is just about the bees knees of yarn findings (for me anyway) in a charity shop for about an eighth of the price its normally retailed at (70p x 2 balls)!

So if my maths is correct the above loot cost me £3.10 and I love it all and can't wait to get cracking on hooking the yarn up, chopping the blankie up, adding the deer vase to my kitsch collection and hanging the wooden soldier on our tree this Christmas.

Have you had a good haul in a charity shop lately?
Tell me, tell me I love to see a good thrifty find.
Happy days to you and yours this weekend
I'll be be back with some of my makes very soon

Monday, 12 November 2012

Make your own Christmas wrapping paper

I must admit that my head is in my work at the moment, so many pressing but, enjoyable commitments at present, already booking loads into the new year. I haven't really started to consider Christmas too much. We don't faff about with too much at Christmas time, we concentrate on the sharing of food, some Christmas cheer and good company, together with a little gift exchanging too. There is no pressure in both mine and Andy's family to give gifts, which I really appreciate as I know it can be a stressful time for a lot of people (including me). I usually  give something thrifted from a charity shop or junk sale, either up-cycled into something functional and hopefully beautiful or something new I bought throughout the year in a sale or something of the homemade yarny variety.

When I was a young teenager I started questioning wrapping paper and bought cards and what they meant and represented? I guess I started thinking a little about consumerism and waste and the difference between the rich and poor. That Christmas I decided to rebel(!)and wrap my family's gifts in newspaper instead. I can't remember their reactions entirely but I loved the "shock" factor and so my personal journey of questioning consumerism began. Weird to think that it may have been triggered by wrapping paper?! 

Now don't get me wrong. I AM A CONSUMER, make no mistake but, if I can stop and think a little it makes me feel like I am adding my minute little contribution to rebelling against money making stationary capitalism spending excessive amounts of money on wrappings when all it takes is time(we don't all have this I know)and some creative thought and a few pennies. My presents always have string or ribbon tied around them and I like to use real holly, berries, pine cones, shells, twigs etc to embellish them when I am doing my wrapping.
{oh no, on re-reading this it sounds a little contrived...I really have nothing against bought wrapping paper I promise, this is just something I enjoy doing}

So, less warbling and on with the post...

On Saturday afternoon whilst Alice did her homework, I sat at the table playing with a bunch of corks (sad eh :o) I was kindly given, when I asked for them, by one of the wine stalls at the Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival in September. I had a plan for these and today was the day!

So, all you need to do to make your own stamped wrapping paper is take 1,2,3 or more flat surfaced corks or potatoes for that matter

Draw basic Christmas type patterns on the flat surfaces of the corks/potatoes

Now, with a sharp Stanley knife or any other sharp carving implement (I used a blade from the lino cut set I borrowed), CAREFULLY carve around the shape. Please be very careful as you can easily cut yourself here. Warning: This is NOT for children to try.

Now, gather whatever colour paints you may have, I used our small collection of acrylic ones (and mixed the blue and yellow to make green which we don't have).

Either use a paint brush or just press your cork (or potato) stamp into the colour of your choice

and stamp away!

I played with my stamps (now I really am looking like a sad-o)on a piece of white scrap card and then pulled out my trusty roll of brown paper, which I always stock, to make some stamped wrapping paper to use this festive season.

Just a bit of childish fun for an hour or two and adding to that home made feel I like about Christmas. It's not perfect, but that's how I like it. Now that I have carved quite a few different shapes, Alice can use these and stamp away to make gift tags, paper or cards if she pleases.

The holly was a little lino cut idea from this book, which I also made this weekend.

I think this will be fun on gift tags, talking of which, I didn't want to waste the white practice card so chopped it up into gift tags for Alice to use for her little gift giving to her girly friends.

So, how about you? 
Do you do silly (sad?) itty bitty things like this for Christmas?
Do tell

Friday, 9 November 2012

A heartfelt thanks and more

It's the weekend, yay! I feel very grateful for the end of this week and will cherish each moment of it. I have had an awful cold again this week I {I think my body is trying to tell me to slow down a bit}and if you've visited here before you will know that my husband and I attended his tribunal in East Croyden, this Wednesday. To say it was an intense, mind gruelling, adrenaline driven emotional experience for me is an understatement and I hope and pray to never experience something like that again. In view of it going on the whole day, with cross examining etc. the Judge (who was brilliantly firm but fair by the way) decided to give both parties a week to submit written closing summaries. We should know the verdict by mid-December. I am very pleased that the "worst" is over, I hope. All we can do now is submit Andy's summary and hope and pray for true justice to prevail. Thanks so much for all your wonderful warm comments of support. So appreciated.

In amongst all of this, I have bee crocheting more of my Retro Circle Blanket and blocking the resulting squares. I am impatient (have you guessed?)and don't enjoy blocking but do appreciate the importance and value of this. So, I forced myself to block these squares before starting to join up last night using this method.

It's slowly coming together but looks a little wonky at the moment. I get the feeling that I will need to block this AGAIN before I do the border?! Is this normal or am I just weird thinking this? Have you blocked your granny square blankets again once you have joined the squares together before attempting to add a border? I'd be grateful if you have experience of this to share with me. Thanks. 

Talking of thanks, I want to share the most gorgeous "heartfelt thanks" that appeared in my post on Tuesday. I was so overwhelmed with the most beautiful gift from the ever so talented Lynne over at her blog the Textile Treasury . Look how gorgeous this is!

It's so much bigger than I thought Lynne and the stitching is too beautiful. Thank you so so much, you can never know how much this meant to me. Do go and visit Lynne's blog, she is a true delight and a very talented lady.

I love a heart with wings, they make me extremely happy. Please can I take this opportunity to thank all my family and close friends for their support too, knowing you were all behind us had real meaning for us on Wednesday.

I'll say cheerio and wish you all a joyful weekend with Lynne's post card of some of her work...inspirational words indeed.

See you all soon