Thursday, 17 December 2009


And there it is!!

A two page spread about me and fellow Craft Candy member Lucia Kempsey (Im the one on the right of the page, posing by my heart wreath)! We found out yesterday that it was going to be in todays paper instead of yesterday and would accomodate two pages instead of one, so that was very exciting and a grand bit of publicity for us and the group.

Needless to say I couldn't wait to read it! Jo talked to Lucia about making Christmas presents, and featured some of her homemade gifts, including her really excellent idea of recipie jars, which she creates by adding ingredients to a Kilner jar with the instructions for the recipie on a hand crafted label! I love that idea and might give it a whirl myself! Lucia makes wonderful things using thrifted jumpers such as the teddy in the picture, as well as corsages, brooches, badges and bags.
You can find out much more about Lucia by clicking the Craft Candy link in the sidebar and looking in the members section :)

For my part of the interview, Jo talked about how my Mum and Gran had been a big influence in all areas of art and craft and how my Mum had finally been able to teach me how to use a sewing machine when I received one last Christmas. She wrote about all the decorations that were in our home, the ribbon wreaths, gingerbread men and snowmen tree decs, festive bunting and my thrifty ideas for wrapping gifts using recycled brown paper, coloured twine and strips of handmade fibre papers. Its been a really good experience and I hope the article will inspire some of the readers to go Handmade this Christmas themselves!

I remember one of the questions that she asked me was about my supplies and the cost - now Im quite lucky in that Ive already got quite a stash, and she did mention in the article that I like old clothes from charity shops - well its a good place to start isnt it? You can sometimes come across the most vile blouse with the most exquisite vintage buttons imagineable on it for just a couple of pounds, or a skirt with the nicest pattern on it thats just ripe for a makeover (ie: textile picture, lavender hearts...)

So Handmade doesn't have to cost a fortune, thrifting is a Good Thing, but Im also quite happy to splurge now and again in John Lewis, or on this fabulous website I found today:

And splurged I did :D

There has been a dusting of snow on the hills here today, and the temperatures are very low - time to get the crochet out and a nice mug of G&B's hot chocolate.

Thanks for all your fabulous comments on the last post, I thought about it afterwards and realised its probably terribly British to be quite modest and afraid to sound shouty and loud about achievements - however, you were all right, and I do feel very chuffed!!

Keep warm, chat again soon!

Love Julia x

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Crafty Christmas Interview

All of a sudden it seemed, Thursday morning dawned, and as I opened my eyes I was forced into sudden conciousness as I realised I still had much to do before Jo, the reporter from The Star (Sheffield's city newspaper) arrived to do the interview later that afternoon.

You probably know by now that even despite my best intentions of planning and preparing well ahead of schedule, I always at the last minute (for some ludicrously unknown reason) decide to bestow extra tasks upon myself and therefore turn into a human whirlwind in order to complete said tasks.

But this is good. It means I feel very confident about what Im doing, and on that day in particular I wanted Jo to come and have lots to look at and talk about.

I finished the heart wreath that very same morning, in the midst of some decorative wrapping and other sewing projects. I must say, I was quite pleased how it turned out, it being the first one Id ever made.

I decided to hang it amidst my Festive Crochet Bunting on the chimney breast...

...and then, it was time to get the house ready! Plumping cushions, putting some Christmassy music on the stereo, some orange and frankinsence oils in the burner, displaying the WIP Big Blanket on the sofa (if you look carefully you can just see the new garden squares Im edging the bigger squares with around the sides) laying out presents, hanging home made decorations on the tree...phew!! Im worn out just remembering all of it!! :D

Anyway, Jo turned up around 4pm, and the afternoon was already nestling in early twilight by then, so she arrived to twinkly tree lights and flickering church candles.

I showed her all my hand made goodies, including this holly embroidered candle decoration, and a ribbon wreath I made (after being inspired by the images on Joharos blog recently). You can just see a corner of it by the candle there...
I got the coffee on and we settled down for a chat, she asked me where I drew inspiration from, whether it was it cost effective or not to make your own stuff and how long I had been crafting things.
The photographer turned up after a while, and I had to look busy with some work (another ribbon wreath) while he took some pictures. I must admit, it was a bit strange, although lots of fun being asked to pose with my work around the lounge!

So! The article is due to be in this Thursday's edition of the paper, centrespread no less!!! - although she did hint that it may be the week after if it wasn't this week as one of their reporters was just back from Afghanistan and they were running a feature on that throughout the week. I will be keeping a look out as I will want to bag a copy as soon as I can to see what the article is like!

Now Im about ready to put my feet up and relax a while, but the little one has Christmas parties to attend, and the Christmas shopping needs finishing, presents need onward we go!

Sending you all love, thanks to you all for your smashing comments on the last post too, I felt that I was rather excited, and then became alarmed that the post may have sounded a bit showy-offy...I do hope it didnt, it was really just pure excitement at rather scrumptious stuff happening all at once, so forgive me if I did sound like I was blowing a bit loudly on my own trumpet!! :D

With love, mince pies and mulled wine to you,
See you soon

Julia xxx

*edited to update the day the feature will be in the paper, not Wednesday as previously thought but Thursday for anyone who is local and fancies a read! :)

Monday, 7 December 2009

No Rest for the Wicked!


Well, better late than never, a post about the Candy Cane fair!! Oh it was such a fabulous day, and despite still not being 100% I enjoyed every minute of it and met lots of lovely people and sold quite alot of stuff! During the day, I had a good wander to see what the other stall holders were selling and came away with some delicious goodies; a hand felted heart decoration, a new pin cushion and some splendid Christmas cards!

I also had a rush of creative inspiration whilst the lunchtime lull was happening and jotted down alot of ideas for the spring fair which I hope to be able to take part in next March, from the design and theme of my stall, to the items I hope to be able to make between now and then for it.

Like I said, no rest for the wicked.

No sooner had I got home and unpacked all of my stock etc, heaved a huge sigh of relief that I could now relax and put my feet up til Christmas without having to make anything else, did I get an email from a fellow Craft Candy soul...(now you will see what I mean by the title of this post):

To cut a long story short, Im going to be interviewed by a lady from our city newspaper this thursday; she is coming to our home with a photographer to take pictures of my stuff and to write an article about homemade Christmas!!! Woot Woot!!! Very, very, VERY exciting to say the least, but much to be done before that - Im quite a thorough person, even though alot of my planning and gathering takes place very last minute, but I want there to be lots of lovely things for her to see and chat about. She also mentioned that they may run a tutorial on how to make something Christmassy at home for the readers - Im beyond jolly about this, Im jumpy-up-an-down excited at the thought of it all!!

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd...if that wasnt all, I found out today that Not Mass Produced have put my Father Christmas card image on their home page, advertising Fab Christmas Gift Ideas for 2009!!!

Well, another reason to be very, very jumpy-up-and-down excited indeed!!! :D

Im afraid this is a short post, and also one which is short on pictures - but alas I am too busy to photograph anything at the moment, up to my eyes in threads and textiles and the like - not to mention mad Christmas shopping sprees and tree decorating experiences with a two year old!!

I will be back again in a few days, to update you all about the interview :)

Til then, I send you fragments of peace, warmed Winter Pimms with apple juice, and lots of love -

Oh, and by the way - thank you to everyone who sent me such thoughtful get well messages, that really was very nice of you!

See you soon,

J x

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Onwards and Upwards

Dear souls, Ive been rather absent from blogland of late due to the aforementioned cold turning into a rather unpleasant chest infection. I finally had to succumb to visiting the docs after trying lots of self medication (like echinacea drinks and afternoon naps) and realising it wasnt going to plan when a silly dry cough began to be followed by a rather strange pain in my lungs. But dont worry!! Things seem to be on the mend!! For the first time in several days I have been out in the fresh air, tackled a small mountain of ironing and began to sort through my stock for the impending fair which is this very saturday!!

Im getting there...however the illness has impeded the progress somewhat and as a result, the house is a mess and dust bunnies are having a fandango under the dining table having not seen the hoover in several days but Christmas decorations are emerging...(hoorah!! and that at least, is a Good Thing :) are boxes of cards and pretty fabric hearts...

Its very exciting, and Im hoping that come saturday morning I will waken with enough 'Umph' to get me through the day as currently energy levels are still quite low (Im seriously looking forward to it though, its going to be very festive with lots of fabulous stalls - please, please click the 'Candy Cane' link on the right side bar to find out more and if you are able to make it, I promise you will not be disappointed!!)

So, despite wheezing and coughing and the obligatory eucalyptus steam inhalations under a towel, I have somehow in the midst of the mayhem found time for a little creative fun time and made some pretty granny bunting, which is now adorning our window!

Im afraid the light isn't too terrific for photographs, but here's a close up...

What do you think? Isn't it cheerful? I was making this at the weekend whilst staying with my sister. Its very quick to make and rather addictive too - Ive already had a request from the Little One for some - 'Mummy can I have flags in my bedroom too please? and can I have pink and brown and blue and green and white....'
Seems Im going to be busy with bunting again very soon!! Well, I figure it will make a nice stocking filler for her so Ive plenty of time!
In some respects, once the fair is over, it will really free up alot of time for me - time to read more books, time to watch good old movies (like High Society, or White Christmas) snugged up on the sofa with hot chocolate and ALMOST COMPLETED BIG BLANKET!!! Oh yes! Did I forget to mention that? Its not far off being done!! Yes, the new pattern is working out a treat and already its big enough to get under and so Im testing it out, just to make sure it works alright...
Im also going to be able to get back to painting, thats what I ache for at the moment...we went to Blackthorpe Barn Christmas Craft Market whilst in Bury St Edmunds visiting sis, and I came away itching to paint after seeing some beautiful work by fellow artists (also went a bit wild and bought a wonderful linocut print, by the extremely talented Penny Bhadresa - do check out her work its stunning).
So, Im all fired up and Im wanting to send more work off to the Literary Agency, and I must tell you - its quite exciting and another mini milestone for me - that my work was circulated around Oxford and London recently and there is interest from a couple of publishers, one of which is Penguin...!!!
Will keep you posted on that, but suffice to say I was delighted to receive that bit of feedback!
Anyway - Ive just remembered that Im meant to be recuperating!! I think a nice cup of tea and a nice rerun of the Darling Buds of May is in order...I do find that when Im not working in the afternoon I get sucked into watching repeats of classic tv shows like that, they are very comforting and make me feel so much better!
I hope you are all well, will try and catch up with you all soon, once the fair is over and done with!
Til then, mulled wine and tiny iced lebkuchen to you!
Love Julia xxx

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Head in the Clouds

Yuck. I have been struck down with a head cold. I am languishing in a fuzzy cloud at present and I therefore apologise for any untoward ramblings that might unfold as this post progresses, but I wanted to chat to you, and say hello, and show you another blatantly Christmassy picture of what Ive been up to this week...all of those who are offended by little bearded chaps in red suits, do look away NOW :)

So as the fair draws ever nearer, I am now working like a desperado through the fug of a cold printing up my Christmas cards. I am putting together some boxes of A6 size cards, 10 to be precise which are all individually hand titled and signed. I feel at this point that I have to say to you that whilst the cost of them might well be a tad dearer than what you might pick up in WHSmiths, I am donating 30% to the Down's Syndrome Charity. And they are splendidly handmade.

And there are only a certain amount of them...which makes them a bit extra specially special don't you think?

Anyhow, yes, Ive decided (after trawling Folksy and Etsy and other artist's and illustrator's websites to get a feel for what these things might sell for and being cross with some for not charging enough for what is lovely work that has obviously taken time and effort to produce, to being downright shocked at 8 cards for £16.00 which made me gasp out loud) - to charge £10.00 per box, and you can buy them here.

Look - all hand titled and signed!!! You don't get that in M&S! ;)

So, before the fog of the head cold descended, sometime over the last couple of days I found time to make some stitchy Christmassy decorations, and here is one for you to see:

He is made to a very simple pattern (which I made myself which means it has to be simple!) from lovely Tilda fabric and felt and beads. You will find him at the Candy Cane Christmas Fair, along with various festive relatives who will hopefully be emerging over the next couple of weeks!

Last night, I took out my Big Blanket. The one that I began several months ago after being inspired by Lucy at Attic24 (naughty woman, she's responsible for a total wool addiction and a birthing of crocheted cushions and the like sprouting up all over our house! Bless her, don't know what I would have done without her to tell you the truth!). Anyway, there I go again - I told you it would be like this today, absent minded wanderings!

Well anyhow, out it came - there were 15 blocks in all sewn together in 3 columns with one block over and I sat and looked at it and suddenley I didn't want to be making just more blocks anymore.


Total change of plan.

After an hour of un-knotting and frogging (I think thats the correct terminology for unravelling reams of sewn together crochet isn't it? Please correct me if Im wrong!) I decided to re-stitch in a big square of 4x4. Here's a bit of it to show you what it looks like:

Instead of making a Big Blanket of blocks with an edge all around, Im going to edge my 16 blocks with a few colours and then go around with lots of individual summer granny squares and then edge those. And I think Im going to join as I go, which I have found to be much simpler and faster than the tedious and often mind numbing job of slipstitch sewing along the backs.

It makes the whole Blankety thing feel exciting again. I must admit to having felt a little tired of it, and for a few weeks now, despite having topped up some depleted wool stocks and being mildly excited by the prospect of getting into it again, it remained shoved in a bag under a chair.

I will keep you posted with photographs when it gets to the interesting bits!

So, thats about it for now. Im off to get a drink and take a couple of paracetamols...there is a Craft Candy meeting tonight in town that I am meant to be attending - I desperately want to go, to see everyone and hear all the news before the fair etc, but I feel a nap coming on and its already almost quart' to four!

Onwards and upwards....

By the way, did you know that there is an idea that the common cold is the cure for overdoing it? Its the only way to make our little bodies stop, sit down, sleep or rest isnt it, so that diagnosis makes perfect sense to me, but at the same time it is highly annoying when you have so much to do...but then again, I suppose thats the whole point...

I know by now some of you will be thinking Ive totally lost the plot, got a terrible fever or worse so Im going to cut my ramblings short and go for a cuppa! Thanks for stopping by, see you again soon!

With love

Julia x x x

Friday, 6 November 2009

Cottage Industry

Little Red Riding Hood Illustration
I have been very busy again this week. Something registered in the far off reaches of my creative mind a couple of days ago, that things needed to be made and stock needed to be replenished for the Craft Candy 'Candy Cane Christmas Fair' which is fast approaching...seems I have done it again, left it all 'til the last moment, and whilst you may think that 3 or 4 weeks is ample time to make and do, then I have to tell you that for me it is sailing far too close to the edge. I like to make crocheted things, sewn things as well as printy/arty things and these all take time, and time is what I generally have not got oodles of, due to the fact that as a Mummy, I spend most of my time entertaining the Little Daughter with baking, play dates, library trips and the like.

Not that Im complaining, I love her to bits and that side of my life is what makes my creative life so enriched.

So it seems my dining room is being turned into a small production room where Christmas cards are printed, boxes of cards are put together, pictures are painted or stitched and sewn and finally, when my bottom can no longer endure the hard wooden chairs I retreat to the living room and the comfort of the squishy sofa to dig out the crochet bag and create little one-off decorations....want a peep? Of course you do!

This little fellow is quite jolly, with his festive hat and scarf, finished with a wooden bead and a hanging cord (which I think you can just make out by my fore finger) - he's the only one though - my theme this year is to create completely unique decorations so once they have gone there are no more! It means its alot of fun too, coming up with lots of individual designs and hopefully, my lovely customers, should they be tempted to purchase, will be going home with not only a cute little handmade dec, but a warm fuzzy feeling that theirs is the only one in the world!! :)

Inspired by a post on Attic24 lately, I decided to make a little bird to add to my decoration stash. I have a thing for birds (I love drawing them with fat little bodies), and last night using a circular crocheted template (you can see Lucy's pattern for more info) I came up with this little chap. His eyes are made with sequins and swarovski crystals which should capture the glow of the fairy lights and twinkle beautifully! He hangs from a crocheted cord that has been adorned with two colourful wooden beads.

So, all this takes place as the nights draw in and the rain hammers on the windows which makes me feel jolly glad to be tucked up indoors with my art and crafts. But its not all work, oh no!! Not that I actually feel that it is work you understand, anything that I make or paint is the nicest thing to be doing and very rarely a chore - but you know what I mean in that sometimes we have to tool down and get outdoors!
Last night was Bonfire Night (officially) and there were plenty of us who gathered for the annual spectacular in my Mum's village. Fortunately, across the road from the field where the bonfire and fireworks are held is a nice little country pub with a great area for viewing not only that display, but many more all over the rest of Sheffield and beyond to the east! We stood clasping our warming beverages, gasping in delight as posies of glittering light exploded against a dark sky - it never ceases to amaze the child in me and this year was especially nice as our Little girl, who is now 2 was absolutely enraptured with it all and didn't cry not once, not even when the very Loud and Spluttery fireworks went off - no, she applauded and shreiked with delight! Fabulous child :)
Bonfire night wouldn't be the same without special tasty things to eat now would it? I made a batch of flapjack, adding a handful of roughly chopped brazil nuts and about 100g of milk chocolate chunks, squashing it gently into the top of the flapjack mixture. Its very nice.
Flapjack, to me, is one of those flavours of autumn - like bangers and mash, roast onions, tart tatin...I love those syrupy, smoky, dense flavours that seem to appear in seasonal recipies at this time of year. It makes me feel decidedly cosy!!

Well, I had better press on! I have the house to myself this afternoon as the Little One is being entertained by Nannie and Grandad and I have not a moment to waste!! Another decoration is beckoning and there is much to do before I feel satisfied with my stash!

I hope you all have cheerful weekends, for us its a trip to a village Christmas Fair - yes, I know its early but you never know what lovely things you might find at these places and I love being able to give someone special a gorgeous handmade something.

See you again soon,

Love J xxx

Thursday, 29 October 2009

On what to do when your laptop leaves home!

'All at Sea' Acrylic & Mixed Media Illustration

Hello there.

Long time no see...! Well my little grey friend is home! After a looooonnnnng week at the computer clinic we are finally reunited and Im glad, although to be honest, a fair amount of Stuff has been achieved whilst I was on my lonesome. Yes. Its unbelieveable how much time I found myself to be spending on it - although it is infinately useful for all manner of things from supermarket shopping, blog browsing and the like, I am one of those people who Pop On for TEN MINUTES and then two hours later am still browsing and wonder where the time has gone...!

So in the absence of my laptop I found myself with huge scoops of time on my hands! When my Little Girl snoozed in the afternoon I was suddenley bereft of company and had to think up new and exciting ways to spend the afternoon. We had a fabulous time at Clumber Park the other day which is one of the most gorgeous places. It was one of those perfect autumn days, dry and warm with lots of crispy leaves to kick about in, and chestnuts. We collected a generous bag load of fairly big ones, for this time of year at least! From past experience its November before you get a decent haul so we were very happy to take them round to my parents house and let my Dad pile them all on his old metal shovel before popping them on the open fire! Scrumptious, foraged food! Nothing like it! :)

Well, the painting above is one of the other things that happened whilst my laptop was being fixed. I spent several afternoons working upon it and it was a most relaxing thing to be doing, listening to various CD's or radio 2...and when that was finished, a spot of crochet was called for. I say a 'spot of crochet'...Ive done oodles of the stuff! Work has recommenced on my Big Blanket, (which then coincided with a visit to the wool shop to replenish low stocks), a new cushion cover emerged which is now waiting for a nice charity shop jumper to come and be the back bit...and there's also something else which I'll show you in a minute, but right now Ive just remembered I must tell you about this:

If you find yourself in the Sheffield area on the weekend of 28th-29th November, I cannot think of another thing that would be better to go to than this. The artists and crafts people of Craft Candy who will be selling their work are absolutely brilliant. The quality is extremely high, you will find some unique and amazing hand made goodies which will be perfect no doubt for Christmas gifts, or a treat for yourself!! Oh, and there's going to be a very Christmassy vibe as Ive heard on the grapevine that there will be festive music playing! If you would like to find out more about the stall holders, click the Craft Candy links on the right side here, and they will take you to the website where you can look at the members page and find out a bit more about the people and what they make and do!

Anyway, back to crochet...

Last week I began working on a little ball. The little ball grew a bit fatter and began to take on the shape of a little bird, a robin to be precise! He's going to be a festive hanging for our house this Christmas, Im trying to decide if to make some more, whether it would be something people might want to buy at the craft fair as he was great fun to make! Here he is, Id love to hear what you think:

I made a little crochet bead to hang on the crocheted cord, another project is already born in my mind from making this and I will reveal all as soon as I can! Im quite excited about it but for now thats all Im saying! ;)

Its so nice to be back though. Ive enjoyed doing this post and for things like this, and for the gorgeous souls I meet through Blogland, I am eternally grateful for my little computer. Ive missed reading all your blogs and Im slowly catching up with them all. I think Im going to try and spend a bit less time browsing though, and more time actually making and doing. Life is very short, and while computers are fun and very useful, life is also very precious and was meant to be lived.
I will see you all soon, happy golden autumn days to you, hope you are all enjoying the warm spell as we are here today!

See you soon,
Julia xxx

Saturday, 17 October 2009



I wanted to post a quick note to you all, to tell you that my laptop is in the land of Not Working Anymore, so it is being sent on vacation come Monday to the lovely man at the computer repair shop. As soon as it comes back I will be posting and visiting blogland again, meantime, enjoy your weekends, especially the little moments and I look forward to catching up with you all again soon!

Sending spiced pumpkin soup, country strolls and warm thoughts to you all.

Julia xxx

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Autumn Dances In

So I was reflecting upon all my different crochet projects a few days ago, and as I joined the Attic24 Pool I was quite surprised to see how many things I had made these last few months - some are still unfinished (like Big Blanket and Little Throw), but nevertheless, there's quite a bit of fabulous woolly goodness festooned around our home, which Im immensley pleased with! Anyhow, I thought it would be nice to share it with you as its jolly colourful and cheerful and totally necessary! :)

As well as woolly projects, this weekend saw me venturing to try a pattern from the Sew Sunny Homestyle book which I bought last week. I was tempted by several things but decided to make something to hang on our bathroom door (most of our doors have hangings of some description on them, mainly hearts but the bathroom one was still bare!). So, Saturday arrived, B's birthday as it happened, and after a brisk and lovely stroll around Chatsworth that morning, we came back home and I made this:

I dont think its come out as chunky as the one in the book but I copied it as it said and I was rather pleased with it as a first time Following A Proper Pattern effort! To be honest, sewing and machines are all still quite new and exciting terrain for me - I think it was probably comprehensive school the last time I was seriously involved in any form of textile design, so I plod on gently with this enjoyable pursuit, learning as I go.
On Sunday, after tornado autumnal winds of the previous day, we awoke to a calm blue morning that just beckoned to be a beach day. Now I consider myself to be fairly landlocked - but in truth, we can be at big sweeps of coastline within a couple of hours, and when armed with a good magazine, a bit of crochet and a chattering tot, this journey usually passes pretty quickly! So, after a quick chat we made up our minds to go, packed up a picnic full of crusty bread, ham, cheese, fruit and big chunks of birthday cake and headed off to Filey.
Filey is just down the east coast from Whitby and Scarborough, and it has the lovliest beach which seems to stretch for miles, and its made out of the best sandpie sand this side of St Ives :)
The sun shone all day, the wind was cool but it was warm enough for the Small Person in our party to take off her shoes and socks, and then her trousers and run in and out of the sandpools and the sea. We walked right up the sands, to the far end where the boats are moored up the pebbly ramp and enjoyed deep breaths of salty air and the sound of baby gulls mewing on the tideline.
We collected a few razorshells too, there were oodles of them strewn all over the place! Im going to try and make the candle decoration from that lovely Homemade book although mine will be somewhat more random than theirs as the shells were varying in size quite a bit!

There is something wistful about this time of the year, perhaps its just that Summer is passing and Autumn is beginning, which signifies the nights drawing in and the days becoming colder...Its a cosy feeling in some respects as its nice to snuggle up indoors, but I always sense a slight air of melancholy around this time, I hear it in the robin's song, and find it in the scent of the fading leaves as they whirl to the ground.
But its also a strangely alive time too, with promise of bonfires and pumpkin carving, toffee apple making and shopping for new mittens...

We had what is probably our last seaside fish and chip supper for a while, sitting on a bench high above the beach watching the waves breaking right up by the seawall, and by now almost covering the Brig (a rocky arm that juts out into the north sea from the cliffs on which you can walk if you are brave and daring and try and dodge the huge spray from the crashing waves). The next few weeks are busy ones, family visiting, a 60th birthday to celebrate, new illustration work to create (my work has been taken to London and the publishers who saw it want to be kept informed which sounds hugely positive), and the Candy Cane fair to prepare for.

Not to mention Bonfire Night, Halloween festivities and the like...!

I send you scarlet and gold leaves to cheer your day, a hot mug of ginger and orange tea, homemade fudge and a roaring fire.

See you soon, enjoy the little moments the most.

With love

J x

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bright October

You are, my dear friends, looking at a prototype - and you are looking at something that has inspired me to make lots and lots of circles, and turn them into some kind of lovely, delicious, crocheted roundness that would eventually take the form of a throw...oh dear (sigh) yes, another one on the cards then.
It all started last night. I was a little bored of tv and trying to get the freeview to tune in properly, so I began to experiment with joining circles together. As those of you with keen eyes may see, I joined as I crocheted and it wasnt until I was almost done that I realised I ought to have joined extra bits in order to stop the piece being too floppy - hence I went back with darning needle and wool and joined by hand. As I said - a prototype. But, terribly therapeutic making those little circles, takes no time at all to suddenley have something useable on your hands, which is how I ended up at 11pm last night with a little flowery doily type affair which is now providing comfort and joy to one of my little jars of autumn flowers!

Hurrah! Lovely, colourful crocheted doily!!

Now October is here, and how fast it arrived don't you think? However, we are still in the lull of an indian summer in these parts, its quite warm enough to swan about in flimsy tops and it's only when the sun has passed the garden that a slight chill begins to pervade, and were it not for it being dark by 7:30 I would be convinced we were still in August.

I enjoy all the seasons and more so as I get a bit older! I also enjoy all the foodie delights that accompany them! At the moment we are purging ourselves on the juiciest figs, well rounded and ripe plums, as well as splendid donations of windfall apples from our neighbours garden which are promptly turning into tatins and crumbles!

I also adore Autumn flowers, and at the moment I am swooning at the firey oranges, yellows and golds of the nasturtiums we have picked from our rather rambling and overgrown garden (its been very neglected of late, what with the decorating, and our hanging baskets are a disgrace having not seen a watering can in weeks). I also love the wonderfully plump dahlias and the brightly coloured asters with their button yellow centres.
Talking of seasons, I have finished my new winter scarf. Here it is in all its little-granny square-glory!
In total there are 135 little squares in shades of milk, driftwood, pale blue and green. The whole thing is edged in the driftwood and milk colours and when I chose the colours, my mind was adrift in memory land, in a Cornish village where a friend and I spent some happy times one January. The shades are very reminiscent of wintery Cornwall, everything on the day in my mind was bleached by a watery sun in a chalky white sky, scudded with smudges of pale grey clouds. The green on the cliffs seemed tired and worn, the very shade in the scarf, and the tide seemed to have a listless energy as it halfheartedly sent cold foam tipped waves up the wet ochre sand. So thats what the scarf is about, that was the inspiration for the colours and I think for my own pleasure, Im going to call it West Penwith.
Being inspired is a daily necessity. As an artist I am always on the lookout for things that light the creative spark. I get alot of pleasure from discovering little bits of things like a beautifully iced cupcake, a jar of fresh flowers and so on, but its work by other artists and creatives that light the fire and I feel very lucky to stumble upon such people whom I can learn from. Its very satisfying to put their ideas to work in my own creative pursuits. I must say, Im not talking about blatant copying here - no, I like to do my own thing art-wise otherwise its not worth the effort, and you can never ever recreate what someone else has done anyway as it lacks the personal energy that you need to infuse your own art/craft with. To me, being inspired is all about seeing and absorbing, looking at different paint techniques, studying a new stitch or trying new colourways, seeing how various mediums are used to create something and then applying those processes to your own work!

I was VERY inspired whilst in Wales this weekend. I took my daughter to Porthcawl and it just so happened to be in the throes of an Elvis Presley festival - I have never seen anything like it - delightful clusters of elderly ladies in bright pink stetsons and Elvis t-shirts singing and bopping outside a cafe that was blasting out 'Viva Las Vegas' into the street! Ha! We found a little deli, stocked up on goodies and made our way to the sands. Once the frivolities of being on the beach for a few hours had been accomplished - donkey rides, picnics, paddling and obligatory ice-cream devoured, we made our way back into the little town for a wander. Now I really like Porthcawl, some might say its a bit time weary but it has a faded seaside charm that I love, it has two lovely beaches close at hand and a marvellous little cafe right on the seafront that does a lovely coffee which you can sip whilst watching the waves!

Anyway, I digress! :D

It was in the bookshop though, up the little high street, that I found creative manna from inspiration heaven! I'd had my eye on the Sew Sunny book for some time but had no idea that Poppy Treffry even had a book out! I had a brief and careful look through them both and my appetite was well and truly whetted - however, I didnt have the necessary £30 to spend there and then on them, so I did what any thrifty young woman would do in a recession, and I came home and bought them on Amazon! :)

Serendipitously, they arrived today, on my art day. For the first time in about 5 weeks my paints have come out, and now I have the perfect reading matter for coffee break time!!

Talking of art, I am going to show you something now and I dont want you to be cross. I know its only October, and I am myself one of those people who wince when I see Christmas Things in shops in August etc, but I dearly wanted to tell you about my charity card. I have just finished working on my design for this year and I will be making A5 sized cards which will be printed, giclee style, and sold to raise a bit of money for the Downs Syndrome Association. Im sure some of you already know that my little nephew has Downs, so its a charity that is very dear to me and each time I sell some cards I send some money to them.

I will be selling this card through my website, etsy and folksy shops. I hope you will forgive me for showing you a Santa in October, but my intentions are good ones! :)

'Father Christmas' Charity Card 2009


I can feel a coffee coming on - and a little bit of browsing in those gorgeous books! I hope you all have a sunny weekend and I look forward to catching up with you again soon!

Love Julia x

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


At last I have found five minutes to do a long awaited blog post! I dont know where the last few weeks have gone, except they have passed in a blur of heavy duty hard work and graft as we attacked our little house with gusto, long awaited renovation work finally underway! However, we managed to sneak in some nice interludes, like trips to the coast and arty crafty things here and there...

Amidst all the building work and heartily in need of a break, we took off to Whitby for the day - it was Regatta weekend and there was cheery bunting everywhere, rescue helicopter & lifeboat displays etc. The sun shone and there was a delicious saltwater breeze blowing in off the water. A lazy afternoon was spent upon the sands, in and out of the sea as Little Daughter finally braved the waves and went in above her knees. Very deep indeed she thought, and laughed wickedly as she soaked all her clothes! What a tonic to be by the sea, and to end a magnificent time of it sitting on the pier eating fish and chips from the Magpie Cafe...oh heaven, the simple things are often all you need....

Anyway, while we have been renovating our home, we decamped to my parents house, ours was swiftly turned into a building site and no place for a little girl. I went armed to the gills with plenty of wool and crochet hooks and finished the cushion I blogged about in my last it is:

Since then, I have begun a scarf for myself - last year my sister, Mum and Little Daughter all received one and I decided amongst blankets and throws that Im still on with, it would be nice to make myself something to keep warm with, so Im getting on with the intention to have it ready before the cold weather sets in...I'll post pics of that soon!
Ive also got another textile picture to show you:

(Sailing Day - available at Little Blue Bird)

Right. Its about time I shared some pictures of the renovation work Ive been banging on about isnt it? Before I do, let me tell you a little bit about this house of ours. It is very old, built in the late 1800's and full of quirky corners and the like. When we took it on, it was just the two of us, and we took it on with every intention of knuckling down to some hard graft and transforming a time weary and sad little place into something cheery and welcoming.

And then our little girl came along. And everything stopped. And for a long time we had to live in this awfully decorated room, where someone with a passion for artex had at some point in time, had a total love affair and gone wild with the stuff! I hated it, and I cant tell you how wonderful it was to start work with a sledge hammer!! ha!

Below is a picture of how it looked before (shudder) I actually feel a little embarressed to show you this as it really is so very, very bad.

Can you see that awful triangle shaped thingy in the middle of the room? Someone had moved the fireplace to the centre, away from the original chimney breasts and that vile object housed the flue. It was constructed of solid brick, the whole way through - as well as metal girders to support the weight.

We filled a 3 tonne skip in a day. Behind all the wooden panels we discovered a stone wall with alcoves. Behind the artex on the walls, were tongue and groove panels, and behind that was chipboard paper stuck to polystyrene stuck to more woodchip...

(finally getting it all down!)

Eventually, our lovely plasterer Danny arrived, and suddenley things started to look interesting...the vision Id had in my mind for so long was starting to take shape!

(the Lounge end, all plastered and Smoooooooooooth!)

In the weeks that followed, we tackled all manner of jobs that present themselves when you take a house back to its bare bones. Electricity and plumbing problems - flooring that needed relaying about six times etc, but finally came the day that we could move back in! We still need to get the pictures up, the bits and bobs out of their boxes and the bookcase and the books back in, but all in good time, and for now, we are sitting back and enjoying our new space.

(Dining Room end)

(Lounge End)
Phew! Im glad we've done it. And now Im ready for a little break just so happens it's my future-in-laws anniversary this weekend, so we are going to be celebrating and relaxing with them. A trip to the coast may be on the cards too, a perfect wind down and much needed time to crack on with that new scarf!

Sending love to you all, I'll endeavour to catch up with you and your blogs now, as things are back to normal - Ive only had stolen minutes to quickly glance at a few here and there so Im looking forward to a nice hour of browsing!

See you again soon,

Julia x

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A Moonlight Adventure

'A Moonlight Adventure'

Im all done. Whew! Its always a journey, painting a picture, and this one was no different to the rest in that it was completely enjoyable and fun, but not without the moments of pondering and glaring at it, before launching off on a rocket of an idea to add a bit more blue, to scuff it back a bit, then add some crayon marks and so on, before a familiar feeling of 'its almost done' began to settle.

I was quite determined that this picture would have a feeling of movement about it, that the viewer would have a birds eye view of the landscape that the little boys were sailing over in their you think Ive managed to achieve that?

I used my old faithful acrylics for this piece (Daler Rowney Cryla) and sharp watercolour crayons, which come in hundreds of scrumptious shades.

This piece is going to be sent to the Agency, I was asked to do some illustrative pieces for them to add to the ones I already had - in all fairness that was only a handful as its only been the last few months which has seen a move into a more illustrative way of painting for me. However, I enjoy a challenge and Im now plotting what my next picture will be about, Im going to be trying hard to convey all manner of my capabilities along the next few months or so!

...on the crafting front...hmmm, confession coming up.
I am officially, a crochet harlot.
Yes, I have succumbed to yet another project, despite being in a fully fledged love affair with my big blanket and my hexagon throw, not to mention a granny square cushion cover, I am now also in the throes of passion with another cushion cover to boot - this time a plain double crochet effort in soft blue which I intend to adorn with several of my seablooms when its completed in its intended envelope style. I think I may have an addiction, and I can hear some of you giggling as you recognise these symptoms yourself - but isn't it just lovely to be able to pick and choose who you hang out with of an afternoon or evening, when you have an hour to spare or relax with? I love it.
My current obsession with all things cushiony stems from the huge changes we are starting (this very friday in fact) to make to our house. I have already picked the colour scheme (very light and bright in comparisson to its lurid terracotta sponge effect of now - (oh, I cant wait to share the photos with you all as we progress!) and seem to have an urgent need to make those necessary accessories which make a house a home, hence a few new cushion covers on the go, and throws etc.
I feel the need to get the kettle on, spend half an hour with my new love interest!!
I shall post as and when I get the opportunity over the next few weeks, as from friday me and Little Bean are camping at Mums and any time I spend here will no doubt see me in dust mask wielding a sledge hammer, or more serenely, slapping on the paint!
I wish you all a happy week, and hope to catch up soon.
Love Julia xxx
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