Monday 29 April 2013

Spring flowers

 Here are some more flowers blooming away at the moment.  Above is Erythronium Pagoda (Dog's Tooth Violet) which is looking lovely, with the lampshade-like flowers held on delicate stems.
Looking up into the Erythronium flowers which also captured the beautiful blue sky we had at the weekend.
 Magnolia Liliflora 'Susan' has also got lots of flowers open and lots more to come.
 My first tulips are nearly there.
 I think the mixture of colours is going to be really cheerful.
 Slightly less cheerful, in fact, a little sombre are the flowers of the Snake's Head Fritillary.  I planted a few bulbs in small pots last autumn and here's the result.  The chequerboard pattern is really amazing.
 It does look as though they have been purposely coloured in.
 The inside of the flower is also beautifully patterned  - with clearly defined runways for any passing bees.  I am really enjoying my daily walk around the garden (being small, it doesn't take long) as at the moment,  there seems to be something new to look at each day.

Thursday 25 April 2013

WIP (Work in progress) progress

 I thought it was about time I updated you on my rabbit Work In Progress. It has been a challenge for my sewing skills - both hand sewing and machining and I have taken my time and done some when I felt in the mood to do it. Above, you can see the hat and pantaloons.  This was the second hat I had made and it still didn't seem right.
 Back view of the rather voluminous pantaloons and hat.  I have since decided that I don't like the hat at all so have been searching through various craft books looking for a different pattern.  I think I have found one that might work, but I'll let you know!
 Then came the dress, in plain blue cotton.  I raised the waistline a little from the pattern, as I wanted a sort of Regency feel. 
Then the apron, made from my precious puffed sleeve dress material.  I had toyed with the idea of make a pinafore-type apron, but in the end, I decided just a little apron would be fine.  So, I now have to have a go at the hat and add some hand made lace to either the dress or the apron.  Oh, and then there is her face - a bit of a make or break thing, so it has got to be right!  Once she is finished, I'll post about her again.  Then I would like to make another rabbit, perhaps using a different pattern, so that there are two of them and they won't get lonely!  (Really, I wanted to make the inside of the ears in my puffed sleeved dress material, that is the more prosaic reason for making another rabbit!) 

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Spring is springing!

 With warmer temperatures and a bit of sun, the plants in my garden are growing away now.  Above are Narcissus Minnow and Muscari Latifolium.
 Lots of Narcissus Minnow with their pale creamy yellow petals and a splash of brightness in the centre.
 I planted lots of this muscari (grape hyacinth) and I really enjoy the graduation of colour as it opens.
 Tulip 'Ballerina' putting on lots of growth.
 Tulip 'Double Early Triumph' gearing up for flowering.
 Allium 'Gladiator' I think.  I bought three of these last autumn and they all seem to have come through the winter in one piece.  They are supposed to have massive flowers, so we'll see.
Delicate flowers from Prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai', looking a picture at the moment.
Finally, Magnolia Liliflora 'Susan', nearly ready to slough off the furry bud covering and unfurl her petals.  A few days more to wait...

Saturday 20 April 2013

A lovely trip out to Horncastle

 Chris had a day off last Monday and I don't work on a Monday, so we decided to head off to Horncastle, a little market town about 45 minutes away, which has become known as the 'Antiques Centre of Lincolnshire'.  It is true, there are a lot of Antiques shops there.  However, before we'd even made it to the centre of the town, I was stopped in my tracks by the wonderful display of gorgeousness that was 'Heather's Fruit Shop and Florist'.
 The colours, the choice - it was wonderful!  I did manage to restrain myself, as I was on a budget and I said to myself that I would call back, but then forgot to!
 Next time I visit, I shall definitely do some plant shopping too.  (We did ask Heather's permission to take these photos and she was lovely!)
There are antiques shops for every budget in Horncastle - the expensive top-end shops, which we didn't go to this time, the middle-price and the cheaper end too.  We spent quite a while at one place, where they do house clearances and out in the yard, glass and china are piled up, to face the elements, which is heart breaking, in a way.  All those things were once loved, used and enjoyed.  I decided that the things I chose would be really pleased to be going on to a happier life, so it was almost my duty to buy some things! The purchasing began.  Above was a little glass bowl, set free from the yard, which cleaned up beautifully and is now sparkling away with two other glass bowls on a table in the sitting room (with my seasonal tree).
 Another little item - a little jug - which was also liberated from the yard. 1950s?  1960s?
Three Blue Italian Spode bowls (my favourite pattern) which were not in the yard, but were in one of the many packed full rooms.
 Here is the highlight of my trip - the thing which, above all the others (lovely as they are), really makes my spirits soar.  I saw this dish in the first shop we visited - lots of different stall holders renting a space.  There it was, calling to me...
 On closer inspection, I loved the floral decoration and, appropriately for the time of year, it even had daffodils on it.  Then there are the sweet little handles and the gilding.
 Even the underneath was stunning - the palest of pale blue over a basket weave pattern, with more gilding.  I clutched the dish as I wandered around the rest of the shop, thinking, "well, if I see anything better, I can always put it back", but knowing that was not going to happen; it was coming home with me!  So it did!  It is also on the table with the glass bowls and looks lovely and makes me smile whenever I see it.  I have had a quick internet search and it was made by Cauldon between 1905 and 1920.
Here's a photo of the one that got away. I loved this little tea set - delicate blue with  pattern of wheat/feathers.  Only four cups but saucers and side plates and a cake plate. I dithered, I picked it up, I put it down.  Should I?  Did we need it?  Would we use it?  I showed it to Chris who was totally sensible and practical,  "When would we use it?  Where would it go?"  Reluctantly, I had to agree - it wouldn't get used and we do have a tea set anyway.  So, it may still be in the shop, if any of you are passing by.  Mind you, if it is still there next time we go, well, it could just be meant to come home with me...

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Work in Progress

 Here's how my rabbit is coming along so far.  Above, you can see the body, arms and legs stuffed and in the process of being sewn on. 
As if by magic, here is the rabbit assembled!  It is a fiddly design, but I am getting the hang of it.  At this stage, I would like to make one more rabbit, as I think the blue floral material left from my puffed sleeve dress would make lovely insides of ears and I have got some pretty blue flowery fabric which would make a perfect dress.  So this rabbit is the prototype and the next one will be much easier (I hope) as I can make a few adjustments as I go along.  I'm already thinking the next one should have knees!  Of course, after sewing the clothes, I may not want to make another one, but I do feel there should be two of them, so that they can keep each other company! 
Next to make will be hat, pantaloons, dress and pinafore/apron.  Should be fun (?)

Sunday 14 April 2013

Puffed sleeves

It all started many years ago, when I was about 5 or 6 years old.  I was desperate for a dress with puffed sleeves.  I don't know what it was that had given me this overwhelming longing for puffed sleeves, but it was there.  Eventually, my Granny made me a little dress with puffed sleeves out of the blue floral fabric above.  When I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time, I really identified with her longing for a puffed sleeve dress. 
So, moving on to the present.  I found a small piece of the material which Mum had kept, so decided to make something with it to remind me of the joy of having that dress.   I had thought to include it in my bunting, but there wasn't enough to make two triangles, which is what I needed.  I then thought I could make a rabbit.  The leap from bunting to rabbits isn't exactly clear, but it was due in some part to seeing linen rabbits in clothes all over the place, on lots of blogs.  (Some of the most detailed and beautiful can be seen over at Millefeuilles , and the owner has recently included mice too).  Anyway, I digress again!  I decided I could make a rabbit dress out of the fabric instead.  Then came the hunt for a pattern.  I looked at the pattern which Helen Philipps had included in her book Pretty Patchwork gifts and at the rabbits which appear on her blog here but ended up being seduced by the rabbits in the floppy hats which appear in this book (the Tilda ones).  You can see the rabbits page from the book in the final photo.
 So, here is where I have got to with my latest WIP (Work In Progress).  It is cut out and sewn together, but requires stuffing, sewing up and clothes making.  Chris suggested that I should make a pinafore/apron out of the floral material and I like that idea.  I have some plain pale blue cotton which I can make the dress from, using the pattern in the Helen Philipps book. 
I am intending to make a dress with a higher waistline and then the pinafore/apron over the top, a hat and some pantaloons too.  There's nothing like a challenge!  I'll keep you updated on my progress.  Little did I know where the puffed sleeves would take me...
Has anyone been watching the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2?  I said I wouldn't watch it, but have succumbed and have really enjoyed it so far.  It is lovely to see such a wide range of ages all taking part and creating such different things.  It is also great to see a person create something from start to finish (this is aimed at you, Kirstie Allsopp, who has a go and then lets experts finish off) and gives me hope when even people who know what they are doing sew something on the wrong way round! I understand the programme hasn't been doing well in the ratings, but I'm going to keep watching it.  If it encourages people to get sewing, it has to be a good thing! 

Tuesday 9 April 2013

A crowd of crocuses (and a few other flowers)

 Finally, the crocuses I planted in a fit of positivity last autumn are looking lovely. They were a bit of an impulse buy, if I'm honest, but I thought they would give a lovely splash of colour to the garden.  I have been watching and waiting, and they did feature in a post not that long ago.
 Once the sun shone on them though, what a difference!  Splash of colour was right and I'm really enjoying the bright and cheerful flowers. 
 I bought a random mix of bulbs and there are some pretty purple striped ones included.
They have the most intricate markings.
Other plants are looking good too - the hyacinths Chris bought me way back in February have been flowering for a long time and provide a wonderful contrast to the yellow crocuses.  My sister gave me the anemone blanda in front and that has been enjoying the sun too.
I spied this grape hyacinth peeking out of a pot today.  It is my favourite variety, muscari latifolium, with a graduation of colour in the flower when it opens properly.  The promise of things to come - I love this time of year!

Friday 5 April 2013

A little bit of Spring

 I forgot to add these photos to my Easter post, so thought I'd give them a post of their own.  Here are some primroses and a solitary pushkinia from my garden (with a couple of daffodils from the ones my colleague gave me), in an egg shell, painted a lovely sky blue.
I saw this idea on Gillian's blog, Tales from a happy house and was inspired to get myself a ceramic egg holder and make an egg shell vessel.  I did strengthen the egg shell with layers of tissue paper and PVA glue, because I knew that the first time I used it, I would break it, if it wasn't strengthened.  Here's how Gillian did it (she made six egg vessels - I only managed one, but I filled the other sections with a variety of egg-based decorations and there were also chocolate eggs, but they are long since eaten).  The crocheted egg was from Thomasina Tittlemouse, won in a giveaway last year) Thank you to Gillian for some great inspiration.
I love primroses and was so pleased to have some flowering for Easter.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Lucky me - again!

Look what I won over at A Little Fur in the Paint where the lovely Anne, who is an extremely talented polymer clay artist and watercolourist/linoprint maker was having a tutorial (you can find it here ) on how she makes her lovely brooches and a giveaway.  I always thought I wasn't a 'lucky' person - well, lucky in lots of ways, but not lucky in winning things like the lottery. However, since starting my blog, I have entered lots of giveaways and have won a lovely selection of things. 
I love blogland for being able to meet (albeit virtually) so many creative people who share an interest (or two) and for the way that there is always someone out there who can help with any little creative challenges you may be experiencing, or give you inspiration for a new project.
(While I'm musing... I'm not exactly sure I believe in 'lucky' or 'unlucky' people - it is more about making the most of opportunities that come your way. If you enter enough giveaways, the chances are that you will win something at some point.)
Anyway, I digress.
The brooch is a mini work of art, incorporating perfectly formed roses, pearls and crystals and is beautifully finished off.
Even the back is lovely.  So a HUGE thank you to Anne, for your generosity and your skill.  I shall treasure this brooch.