Sunday, 10 December 2017


 Like most of the UK, we have had snow.  This was the scene looking down the garden this morning.  However, we were luckier than a lot of people as the snow hasn't settled and has pretty much gone now.
 I like the snow to look at, but don't like it if we have to go anywhere.
My poor box bushes were looking a bit chilly!
There was just one thing to do.  Light the fire and settle down in the warm to write some Christmas cards.  So, that's what I did.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Seeing Robert Webb

Last Friday night, we went to see and hear Robert Webb reading from his book, 'How not to be a boy' and being interviewed at the local City Library, as part of a tour.  For those who don't recognise the name, Robert Webb is a comedian ('Peep Show', 'Back', 'That Mitchell and Webb Look'), but he is proudest of his writing - for the comedies mentioned and work for other comedians too.  While Peep Show is not really my cup of tea, it has been very successful.  I did watch and enjoy That Mitchell and Webb Look.  He has also given a winning performance of the famous audition scene from Flashdance for Comic Relief in 2009, which endeared him to many (click here to see it).  He originates from Lincolnshire and occasionally comes back, but as he said, most of his family are dead, so he doesn't visit as often as he used to.
He was incredibly erudite, answering questions from the audience with aplomb and being genuinely funny.  Many of these questions centred around gender stereotyping and he gave some thought-provoking, sensitive answers.
Needless to say, Chris bought his book which Mr Webb signed and it is next on my reading list.  It has had really good reviews.  I think it will be quite challenging in places, but it includes important issues obviously close to his heart, as well as being a memoir.
There was one really good piece of advice he gave on writing a book (this one took him two years).  Ask yourself three questions and if you can't answer 'yes' to them, don't write it:
Does the book need to be written?
Does the book need to be written by you?
Does the book need to be written by you now? 

Edited to add:  I am about a third of the way through and yes, it is well written and interesting, but (and it could be a big but for some readers), there is extremely strong language from the start and throughout. (I thought I should let you know).

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Stitching Santa 2017 progress

I have been gathering suitable gifts, most with a sewing theme, but a couple of surprises too, for the Stitching Santa swap/exchange, hosted by Sewchet which I'm taking part in.  My parcel will be going abroad, so I need to get it sent off soon, so that it will arrive before Christmas.  Part of the fun is not knowing who is sending the gifts to you.
I have made a little fabric storage box, using a tutorial from SewforSoul, which can be found  here .  It was a great tutorial, easy to follow and I enlarged the pattern just a little to make a bigger version.  I used the fabric which I bought to make a doorstop back in 2015, which you can read about here.  So far, it has made a doorstop, a notebook cover and now a fabric box.  I used fusible wadding to give the material a bit of added strength and that was a first, but was easy to sew through and worked well.
It could have just a little bit of the inside material showing, as above,  but Chris thought it looked better with a bigger amount on show, so that's what I did.
I used some green cotton material for the inside which worked really well, picking up the green on the outer fabric.  I am really pleased with the result and hope that the recipient will like it too.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Cakes and cards

 In amongst preparing for the craft fair, birthdays of friends and colleagues have come and gone.  My colleague, Leanne, had a big birthday last year and I made her the cake above with birthday bunting.
 This year, it was the same 'Russion Roulette Revels cake', minus the bunting.  I have written about this cake before and it is a great recipe, keeps moist and has the most delicious chocolate fudge icing, but works equally well with chocolate buttercream.  The Revels are a chocolate coated sweet, with various fillings - honeycomb, toffee, orange, chocolate, raisins and coffee.  The last two are my least favourite and I usually get more than my fair share of them!  Leanne says she always looks forward to this cake.
 I have also been making cards, again with bunting (a bit of a theme is developing here, but it is very celebratory, isn't it?).  This was for a birthday in September.
 This was Leanne's card this year.  I used glossy accents on the bunting to make it shine and used a kit to create the card.
 This is for a colleague's 50th birthday this week and involved stamping, heat embossing, glitter and glitter paper.  It was very enjoyable to make too.
 I added a few stamps and die cut numbers to the inside too.
The great thing about using stamps is that the envelope can be decorated too.  I have a feeling that I may be making more cards in the future... in fact, my mum is 80 in less than a month, so that is a perfect reason to make another card.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Big Craft Event

I had a good day at the Big Craft Event on Sunday.  The weather was bright and sunny and there were lots of visitors.  Chris and Rachael were wonderful - I couldn't have done it without them.  Chris had made me a shelf last week, when I realised that I needed something substantial to put my framed work on (nothing like leaving things to the last minute, Ellie!).  Rachael was great with arranging the items and having ideas for how to improve for next year and generally being fun to be with. 
Lots of people were very interested in my felt work and in the screen printed pieces in particular, so this is an area I am going to work on next year.  There were enquiries about cards, so that will be another focus, as will smaller pieces.  The birthstone hearts (felt hearts with geniune gemstone charms for the different months - they are on the seasonal tree display) weren't as popular as I had hoped, so I will move away from those, although there were so many hearts on so many stalls, that perhaps people had reached saturation point with them.  Out of all the hearts, the small ones were the best sellers, so I may continue with a few of those.
The biggest surprise was the needle felted sheep, which I had added as a bit of a last minute thing, in order to catch people's eye and encourage them to look at the other items.  I had managed to make six in the end and they all sold.
 They had all been given names and customers seemed to be drawn to them. 
 They are very cute, but I was delighted that customers liked them as much as I did.
I did stab my finger several times making them, but I am getting better at that and I also need to pay attention to my posture as the hours I spent on the last two sheep took their toll on my back. So, more sheep is definitely the way to go!
It was an enjoyable experience and I like meeting people and spreading the joy of felt making.  I also need to look at providing workshops as I had a few enquiries about that too.  In the end, I covered the cost of having the stall and made a little bit of profit too.  I have signed up for next year, so will be working on new items and lots of new ideas over the months.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

One more week until The Big Craft Event (and the flock is growing...slowly)

I can't believe how quickly this year has gone.  It doesn't seem two minutes ago when I was saying to myself, "I've got ages until November", but here we are and it's next weekend.  OH, MY GOODNESS, NEXT WEEKEND!
I am looking forward to it although I am a bit nervous too and hope that I will sell something, but it is mainly a way to get my name out there a bit and talk to people. 
My small flock of needle felted sheep is growing, albeit slowly.  I am hoping to make a couple more before next weekend - I think we need a blue one! 
They look like they're either going to start singing, or are taking part in a police line up (or, as Chris so wittily said, a 'fleece' line up!) (edited to add: my friend Rachael suggest it could be the 'ewe-sual suspects' - see what she did there?!  Don't we all love a sheep-themed pun?) in this photo, but they do make me smile.  I hope they have the same effect on people at the craft fair next week.  Right, back to it - now, where did I put my felting needles?

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Playing with a new camera

Unfortunately, my Kodak camera which I have been really happy with for a few years, has decided to start letting me down over the battery charging.  If I charge it the night before I need it or the morning I need it, it is fine.  However, after that day, no battery.  I bought a replacement battery but it has proved to be the same, so I am thinking there might be something wrong.  It has taken some lovely photos and I have enjoyed using it, but I decided to buy a new camera. 
After a lot of research, I ended up with the Canon Powershot SX420 IS.  It is different, but it has recognisable buttons and functions.  It has mixed reviews online, but for the price I was happy to pay, it was one of the only options.
This photo is from the Canon website.
 So, I went into the garden to have a practise with it.  Cyclamen Hederifolium looking rather glamorous.
 The changing colours of  Blueberry Goldtraube...
...and again.
 One of the final blooming roses - Gertrude Jekyll.
 Lovely Hydrangea Arborescens Annabelle, fading elegantly.
Miscanthus Silberfeder I think, alongside Rose Gertrude Jekyll.  So far, the camera seems to be OK, although more practising is needed I think.  I'm not sure that the photos have quite the clarity of the Kodak, but time will tell.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Stitching Santa blog swap

Over the years, I have taken part in a lot of blog swaps and exchanges and have really enjoyed them.  It's always lovely to make new friends and send presents.  Receiving presents is nice too, of course.  Recently, I haven't noticed so many to take part in and I have been missing them, so when I saw one which Jo from Through the keyhole is taking part in, I went off to investigate.
It is being run by Sheila at Sewchet and you can choose either knitting/crochet or sewing to take part in.  It is more like a Secret Santa, where someone sends you a present and you send someone else a present, so it isn't a straight swap.  You can spend up to £10.00 (always a good idea to have a limit) and I am looking forward to finding out who I will be sending to.  Some blog stalking (in a nice way), once we have the details will also help to tailor the gifts to the person.
If it sounds like something you'd like to join in with, go on over to Sewchet, where you'll find all the details.  Sign up is open until 31st October, so there's still time!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Big Craft Event - one month to go

Yes, only one month to go until the Big Craft Event  at the Lincolnshire Showground (12th November 2017 if you'd like to come along) where I am taking my felt work.  I am almost there but just have a few things to finish off and sort out.

 I have made a banner for the front of the stall, and have been very lucky as my talented illustrator friend Rachael has designed a happy sheep logo for me and I have had it made up into a stamp for my packaging materials.
It is a very happy sheep!  I have added a watermark to the above photos, which is not something I usually do on my blog, but I decided it would be sensible to protect that logo.
I know that choosing a name for a hobby, which will work on the internet, as well as any products which you hope to sell, is a difficult process. I settled on 'Feltabulous' in 2009, for this blog and any other website/packaging etc.  I have discovered that other people have also chosen this name, in America and Australia.  This is not too much of a problem as they are in other countries and their work is not like mine.
However, earlier in the year, I discovered that there is someone not too far away from me, also in Lincolnshire, who is using the name, albeit with a variety of upper and lower case fonts and mainly producing needle felted work. I wouldn't mind so much if it was in the UK, but away from Lincolnshire.  I got in touch and asked if we could find a way to distinguish our names, so that our respective customers would not be confused.  Unfortunately, I have had no response.  I have added 'Lincoln' to my packaging in the hope that this will make my work synonymous with me.
I will be busy working away for the next month, finishing off projects and getting it all ready...

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Knights' Auction - the results

The auction of the Knights from The Knights Trail (the 'cutout' photos are from their website) took place last Saturday night at Lincoln Cathedral and the total amount raised for The Nomad Trust and other organisations was nearly £180,000.
(The photos of the Knights in situ are by Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite.)
 Rachael's Knight, 'Home is where the heart is' raised £4,600.  I think she was really pleased.
 'Knight of the Skies' raised the most, going for £15,000.
He was signed by the last surviving member of  the Dam Busters and will be displayed at the Bomber Command Memorial, just outside Lincoln.

 'Knight in the Forest' raised £9,000.

 'Lincoln Greene' raised £9,200.

'The Luttrell Psalter' raised £4,200.

'The Knight has a thousand eyes' sold for £3,000.
It would be nice to know who bought them and if they can be seen in their new homes.  If you would like to know about the others (and see some good photos of all the Knights in situ on the trail), head over to The Lincolnite).

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Lincoln Book Festival 2017

This last week has seen the Lincoln Book Festival where various book related events have been happening.  As an avid reader, I thought I ought to be involved. Chris brought the programme to show me and there was one event which I could not miss, as one of my favourite blog writers, Kirsty Stonell Walker (from The Kissed Mouth blog) would be speaking about Pre-Raphaelite women.  Here's the info about the evening:

"Tuesday 26th September, 6:15pm - Painted Ladies, Iconic Faces - chaired by Dr Claire Brainerd, University of Oxford

MARTIN KEMP on the Mona Lisa
Martin Kemp is one of the world’s leading authorities on Leonardo da Vinci and has published extensively on his life and work. In his new book, MONA LISA: THE PEOPLE AND THE PAINTING, co-authored with Giuseppe Pallanti, he cuts through layers of accumulated myth to reveal a wealth of information about the people and events behind the portrait.
The true story of the Mona Lisa is even more astonishing and transcendent than the legends. It will forever change the way you look at the world’s most famous painting!

KIRSTY STONELL WALKER on Pre-Raphaelite Models, Muses & Mistresses: from bathtubs to asylums – Today any woman with red hair is regarded as pre-Raphaelite but who were the original Pre-Raphaelite muses? Kirsty has spent the last 20 years researching their lives and loves, who they were and what became of them – incarceration or front page news. From mid 19th century to 1920s, they were icons whose lives were as scandalous as the roles they played in paintings.

Kirsty is the author of STUNNER: THE FALL AND RISE OF FANNY CORNFORTH and two novels exploring the Victorian art scene, its murders, lust and secrets; she also writes the intriguingly titled blog The Kissed Mouth."

It was a very enjoyable evening, marred only slightly by someone attempting to be 'Coughing Bob Fleming' (from the comedy show 'The Fast Show') and by a staff member imitating David Bailey and clicking his camera at every opportunity.   
I had a chat to Kirsty and introduced myself and we talked about the Pre-Raphaelites and the Brontes (as she was visiting Haworth the following day).  She was just as she is on her blog - the same enthusiasm, passion and slight irreverance which makes me laugh.  Both of the talks were informative and very interesting (but secretly, I liked Kirsty's best - no surprise there).  The book festival has had some stellar names including David Starkey and Alison Weir as well as Janina Ramirez (historian who has presented several BBCTV programmes).  It finishes today and I hope it has been very successful.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Chivalry of Knights (or a Rout of Knights)

 The Knights Trail in Lincoln has finished now and has been very successful - apparently more people came to see the Knights than the Barons (two years ago).   We didn't manage to  go on the trail but saw lots of the Knights in their places around the city.  They are now together for a reunion in Lincoln Castle until they are auctioned on Saturday.  I took the opportunity to head up to the Castle to see them all.
 They did look very impressive, forming a guard of honour along the road.
 There were lots of themes, some based around Lincoln and Lincolnshire and some more to do with word play around 'Knights'.
 You can see my friend Rachael's Knight here... (and posts about him/her here and here)
 ...and here.
 Of course, Rachael's was my favourite, but I liked several of the others too.  'The Knight has a thousand eyes' - see what they did there?  This was by Sue Guthrie and the eyes were painted in phosphorescent paint so that they shone at night.
 The fields of Lincolnshire made an appearance on a few.
Others were just really colourful.
 Somehow I had missed this one, which was beautiful.  It was based on images from The Luttrell Psalter and was covered in these weird and wonderful creatures.  It was also painted by Sue Guthrie.
 The artist had painted the images with great skill.
 I liked the more muted colours too.
 There were a few Lady Knights, like this one.
 It was lovely to be able to see them all together.
 I wonder who will buy them on Saturday?
Unfortunately, two of the artists who worked on the Knights have died since completing them. Apparently, flowers have been laid by the Knights as a tribute - what a lovely idea.  Some of the Knights had a few adventures as there was some vandalism (why can't people leave things alone?) and one ended up in the river.  However, they were rescued and restored and looked as good as ever.  There was also an Education Trail for Lincolnshire Schools, who were invited to decorate half sized Knights.  They are on show in the local shopping centre. (If you aren't fed up looking at photos, here they are...)
 The Schools had done a great job with them.
 Lots of them had inspirational words as part of the design.
 I liked the artist Knight on the left of the photo, riding a unicorn.
This Knight had turned into a King, using keys as his crown.
 This one had mosaic tiles with tiny drawings on them.
This one used a bit of pointillism, and his horse was covered in faces of the pupils.  It has been so fascinating to see all the Knights and to follow the progress of Rachael's.  I will keep an eye out to see the auction results.