Monday, 22 December 2008

Loose Ends

Monday morning and I should be packed up, heading out the door...but I'm not quite ready. Someone please remind me next year to start christmas preparations a little earlier! I was still making presents at gone midnight last night...the trouble is, in my head I have three more days, but reality is the clock has stopped. Nothing is wrapped, either.

I feel like I'm chasing my tail, trying to catch up. I had a lovely parcel in the post several weeks ago from Maxine (no blog!) as part of the christmas swap organized by French Knots, and only got to take pictures yesterday.

A shaker angel


handmade decorations


moleskine volant notebooks


There were also some truffles, eaten during the unwrapping! Thanks, Maxine, it's a wonderful present!

Remember my nephew Ben, of the wonderful chicken coops? He lost his car keys a few weeks ago (eventually found), so I've made a key chain for the chicken boy. I love this fabric. it makes me smile. For some reason I'm more pleased with this than virtually anything else I've made.



Well, that's it. I'll stop rambling. Time to sign off, and tidy up the other loose ends around the house.

I wish you all a happy and peaceful christmas with your loved ones. Back after New Year.

xxx

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Quick draw

Ali, the random number generator has picked you for some christmas cards - please email me your details.

I've loved looking through everyone's christmas song favourites, there's been a few visits to You Tube to check out the unfamiliar.

Back later (I hope!). Still rather a lot to do and I leave tomorrow...

Thursday, 18 December 2008

christmas cards - and a wee giveaway

So finally most of my cards have been written and posted. Just a few left to write, along with a bit of news. Par for the course here - I do have a habit of leaving all things christmassy to the last minute.

As the last few weeks have sped by, I've not found much inspiration for a card for this year. Lurking in the recesses of my brain was the thought that I should take the leap and use my gocco for the very first time. I've kept this secret, but I bought a gocco about six months ago from a little goodness, and although I've looked at the box, unpacked it, touched it, and admired it, courage has failed when it came to actually using it. I'm not sure why I was so daunted really. So, after ordering card supplies (what a luxury, not to mention time saver, to buy pre-cut and folded card as I usually cut and fold myself) and envelopes, what to design? I should add that the blogger who continually inspires with her gocco cards is Melissa, and she's also written a really helpful gocco 'how to' post. Also check out the gocco flickr group.

After a bit of faffing about I was thinking snowflakes. This was semi-discarded, and then developed into my first paper cut, done, I have to admit, with nail scissors! After several attempts I was happy with my design and I ironed this with a tiny bit of steam, then mounted it on card , and took it down to the printers to be photocopied and reduced. The photocopy is used to make the screen.


Then, the scary bit - making the gocco screen. I checked various tutorials and then, well, you just have to do it, don't you? It was much easier than I expected and I'm wondering now why I waited for months to start printing. The red and white features again (the red has come up a bit pink in these photos) - though I have a very small choice of inks to choose from, most of them not 'christmas'.


The actual printing was quite easy, though I haven't always managed to get the ink spread evenly - it's very thick and gloopy.


Once I got going it was quite the production line - anything that could be gocco'd was grabbed! I am really pleased and excited by my cards, and can't wait to try something else.


I've also printed some postcards - maybe these will be cut down for gift tags, or used for a christmas note or two. I've also printed a moleskine cahier so I now have my own little christmas book!


I thought it would be fun to give away a little set of five cards with envelopes. Probably too late for using this year, but save for next! The draw closes at midnight on saturday (2oth) and I'll pull a name from the hat on the solstice. So leave me a comment - oh, and a question for you: What's your favourite christmas song? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Christmas bunting

Continuing on with the red and white theme, which is a bit of a feature around here at the moment, I've made some baby bunting as a surprise for my sister G. It's in the post and she'll get it tomorrow.


It's quite tiny compared to 'normal' bunting, just a wee bit bigger than the birthday bunting I made her. Last year I made her a little tree from vintage linen.


There's no easy way to take a decent photo of a string of bunting with the low light levels at the moment, so pics show a bunting 'pie'. The cotton tape (folded in half here) was bought on one of our days out together, the blanket is thrifted, and the buttons are all from my Mum's button box, which I inherited. So a bit of history here too.


I finally made my christmas cards today, and I'm really excited about them...so they'll get a post all of their own. You've been warned!

On a catching up note...I'm not! I'm way behind with responding to emails and comments, and I can't see much changing before I go away. Sorry. Where does the time go? My 'get to it and do it' list is still ominously long.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Christmas pebbles

My pebble obsession has moved into christmas mode.


Red and white felted pebbles.


Just because.

(I looked at lots of tutorials online, and in the end just took a bit from this, a bit from that, and had a go. The larger ones were done in the kitchen sink, the smaller ones in the washing machine.)

Monday, 8 December 2008

The scent of christmas

Orange, clove, cinnamon, pine, may chang, bergamot....


Christmas is as much about scent for me as it is about visual decoration (and many other things). The oil burner is flickering whenever I'm home, warm spicy scent wafting through the house, memories of christmas past...and setting the memory for this christmas, too.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Introducing Archie....

...my new dog. He had a very quick journey, and was waiting for me when I got home from work this afternoon. Walter looks slightly alarmed by his presence and tried to whisk him away before


proper introductions could be made. I can reassure you that he was rescued immediately, and has now made himself comfortable in a cosy spot well away from Walter.


Here he is close-up, showing off his felty good looks...


And here, his other profile. I especially love his ears and the way they stick out. And his expression...looking up slightly quizzically.


I saw Archie's brother on Janet's blog and fell for him. Lesley (blogless!), his maker, very generously emailed me and offered to make me my very own felted dog. And that is how the lovely Archie came to live with us. As Janet said: "The world is full of lovely people". How true.

A very big thank you, Lesley.

**************************

On a christmas note, this is progress so far:

:: number of presents made: one

:: number of presents 'in progress': one

:: number of presents left to make: at least nine

:: number of christmas cards received: two (including a very long letter)

:: number of cards I've made: none

:: number of times I've listened to the christmas cd compilation: double figures already

:: favourite christmas single: this one. I love it.

Looks like I need to move up a gear....so here's to a weekend of crafting and knitting and getting organized.

Happy weekend - hope you're getting into the christmas spirit!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Hello December

Three days into December already...how time flies.

The last week has disappeared in a flurry of activity at home - mainly transforming my house back in to somewhere you just might like to sit down and linger a while, in readiness for a visit from my Dad. Just as well he was coming otherwise chaos would still reign. I used to be so tidy but somehow that habit eludes me at the moment. I've also been pretty absent from my computer - a big thank you to everyone who left a comment or emailed after my last post. I've spectacularly failed to respond to anyone. A certain equilibrium has now been restored, and I'll try and catch up.

Two parcels arrived last week, one still awaiting a photo or two, so I'll save that for another time. But this one arrived all the way from Canada:


My wonderful address file that I won in a giveaway hosted by Sharilyn of Lovely Design. I can't tell you how long I've coveted one of these. And it ticks all the right boxes for me - stationery, paper, wood, recycling....and it's so beautiful in its simplicity. My christmas has arrived a few weeks early! Thanks so much Sharilyn.

Christmas...I never quite kick into gear until December has arrived, so it ends up being a mostly enjoyable rush to get everything done. Can't wait to dive in and really get going!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A moment to pause

It's cold.

I yearn for frost, but it happens rarely down here. I shall have to wait until I go up country for christmas visiting. There's something so magical about the language of winter. There's a chill in the air along with piercing blue skies and long golden shadows from a sun hanging just above the horizon. The landscape is at its most exposed.

The trees are mostly bare, their silhouettes clearly defined. My walk in the woods yesterday was spent with my head tilted back, neck craning, seeing if I could find the exact spot where I took this photograph just over a year ago. Trying to see how much the trees had changed shape.


Pausing for a moment


Reminding myself of the beauty of trees. Of nature. And how good it feels to stand still for a while. Just looking. Just being.

I need to pause for a moment this week.

So many things needing my attention.

And a messy house, beyond messy in fact. And my Dad due in a few days for a visit. And a family emergency at the weekend which reminds me where my priorities lie.

Back in a few days when I've caught up.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Surprise!

My postie arrived with a wonderful unexpected package on wednesday. Inside the plain brown wrapping was this lovely pile of goodies, tied with silvery orangey pink ribbon. Like all good bloggers I whipped out the camera to record the unveiling process....


Revealed...two lovely little notebooks and a little card depicting enamelware in the garden...


and a vibrant lavender-scented heart...


And the sender of this very generous parcel? The lovely Helen! Helen, thanks so much, this was totally unexpected...and I do love a surprise. Especially when it encompasses some of my favourite things - paper and notebooks, the enamelware (which I collect in a small way) in Helen's own photo, and lavender hearts. I really like Helen's notecard, printed by Moo. The finish is matt laminate, and it's much classier than the postcards I had printed a while ago (they were too glossy for my taste). I could be tempted now...

Happy weekend everyone!
And to all of you going to the Handmade and Vintage Fair tomorrow - have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Pink sky at night

Beautiful pink skies as I walked on the prom while the sun was going down.




There was a stillness in the air, barely a ripple on the water. Peace.
A perfect end to the day.

Knitting for me

I have various knitting projects on the go at the moment, but they're all secret....some people might peep you know, and that would spoil a surprise or two. But in between a row here and a row there I've been going round and round with this cowl/neck warmer.


It's from this book and rather than using cashmere (don't want to tempt Walter!) I'm using this lovely mix from Loop. The colour is Blue Sky....and it resonates beautifully with the colours that surround me each day as I walk on the beach. It's going to be a fine and rather floppy (or should I say drapey?) neckwarmer, probably better suited to spring. Just an excuse really to knit another more chunky version. And who needs an excuse when there's so much wonderful yarn to choose from?

Monday, 17 November 2008

The new machine

My new sewing machine is two years older than me. Born in 1962, and in fabulous vintage working order (not sure that always applies to me!). My Bernina is reassuringly solid, no plastic casing in sight. She pootles along at a gentle cruising speed, unlike the young Toyota who was always in the fast lane. Straightforward instructions, all in english, and clear illustrative photos. What more could I want?


This lovely old machine was given to me by an elderly client, who said she hoped I could find someone to get it working. I assumed, therefore, that it didn't currently work, and as I had no use for it (this was last year) I gave it to my sister G as a back up machine for her Bernina. Her need is greater than mine as she sews soft furnishings for a living. To cut a long story short, it was serviced and all it needed was a little oil here and there, and a clean.


It has now found its way back to me as G acquired a nearly-new Bernina in an auction. What a relief - I know my way round this machine and it does the basic things I need.


I am just finishing off something for the Christmas Swap that French Knots organized. Cutting it close to the bone as always. Meant to be in the post by wednesday.....

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Remembering

My Mum
13 May 1933 - 13 November 2006


This photograph was taken by one of my sisters just a few months before my Mum died so suddenly and unexpectedly two years ago today. It sums up her joy for life, and enthusiasm for having a go at anything and everything. She was the glue that held our family together, and we all, in our own way, fell apart without her. And when more of our loved ones, both human and animal, joined her in those following months, it felt like we were diving in to an abyss.

Dillon
7 July 2000 - 9 February 2007


Dillon, my retriever, was just six and a half when he died. He was my own little bit of family here in Cornwall. And a real water baby.

I was sent this prayer/blessing by a dear friend in London, and without a doubt it kept me going.


A Pueblo Indian Prayer

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if I've gone away from you.

And life does go on....you learn to accommodate your losses, and find a new 'normal' - whatever that might be. And I like to think that if my Mum were able to read it she would have enjoyed my little blog. Mum, we all miss you more than words can say...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Lucky me

Late last night, when I should have been toddling off to bed, I headed to the computer instead, and an email from Sharilyn at Lovely Design made my day.

I've just won this in a very generous giveaway! I have coveted one of these address files for longer than I can remember. And as Sharilyn hasn't been making any for a while, it's even more special.

Definitely worth staying up for!

Thanks so much Sharilyn. It will be treasured.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Quick draw

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my one year post. Good to see some people delurking, too. I've not done anything more with the little corsages....I'm pondering....you all left some great suggestions!

So, a draw....I resorted to a random number generator, in the interests of speed, and sheer laziness. And the number is 24, which is Babs from Little Terraced House. Babs, please email me your info etc, and we can discuss goodies, because there are options!!

And just to reassure you all, my naughty Walter is fine after his cashmere-ingesting episode.


It's hard to be cross with him for long - I wouldn't dream of smacking him, and if you raise your voice, he goes to pieces. Ignoring him is what works. And I find that hard, too. He has the upper paw in this house.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

In the doghouse

I may give the impression that life here is all calm and tranquility, but I can assure you that it's not always the case. These are the remains of my cashmere wristwarmers, extracted from Walter's jaws on returning from a quick visit to my neighbour.


I was apoplectic with rage, and the air turned blue. Naughty Walter was ignored for several hours while I regained a sense of equilibrium. I realized too that I would have been even more annoyed and upset if he'd destroyed something I'd knitted myself, like my new scarf. And perhaps getting him to model my knitting for blog photos doesn't help either! I have enough cashmere remains to make a lavender sachet.... any other suggestions?

Before Walter came to live with me he was operated on to save his life because he'd eaten a pair of knickers and they'd got tangled up in his intestines. At least now he's elevated his tastes a notch or two.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

One year

One year
366 days
132 posts

Today is my blog's first birthday..... happy birthday, Pebbledash!

I'm quite surprised to find myself here.....surprised I've lasted a year. I started blogging a year ago completely on impulse, having only recently discovered blogland. I found myself being inspired by other people's creativity, and if I'm honest, I was looking for anything that could distract me from the grief that was engulfing my life. And my blog has done just that, and so much more. This year has flown by, and Pebbledash has motivated me to try all sorts of things that otherwise I probably wouldn't have bothered with, and certainly wouldn't have seen through to conclusion (certainly never imagined I'd be knitting!). I do have a tendency to start a project or idea firing on all cylinders... and then run out of steam. But writing and taking photos has gently nudged me to keep going. I've reacquainted myself with photography again after years of not picking up a camera, and it's a real joy. The writing I struggle with, it doesn't come so easily.

And the unexpected bonus of blogging is connecting with all of you...making friends both real and virtual, being inspired by all your ideas and inspiration, seeing the world through your eyes. Thank you. And thank you too for the lovely comments you leave - I really appreciate each and every one. I am so glad I started Pebbledash, it has enriched my life in more ways than I could ever imagine.

I'm going to host a wee giveaway here...though I have to confess I haven't actually made anything yet. So if you're up for a potential mystery gift, leave me a comment and I'll draw a name at random on sunday evening (9 november).

Now for something else....I was doodling last night with my knitting needles and some mohair-type yarn which I picked up from the charity shop for 5p. I wanted to knit some flowers to use as potential corsages and this is what evolved.


I'm really not sure about these...not even sure if they're my kind of thing. But I can't see the wood for the trees, so please share your thoughts, whatever they may be. I'd appreciate it.
(edited to add: the corsages are little...the smaller one is 3.5cm across, and the larger one is 4cm and both have a brooch bar on the back)

And here's to my second year of blogging - I'm definitely carrying on!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Following the sun

Left or right?
As I was leaving work to come home a short while ago, I found myself turning left (for the long road) as opposed to my usual right (the quick way). The sun was setting and I had to follow it, it was that mesmerizing.


I pulled over and just watched through my open car window. Sometimes these little bits of simple everyday stuff just reel you in. And I'm left feeling awed by the power of nature and the beauty of this land around me.
I'm glad I turned left.

Breakfast

Pumpkin bread, toasted,


with butter and homemade marmalade. Yum.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Making friends

When I started blogging it never really occurred to me that I'd make new friends - real friends too, as opposed to virtual friends (not that there's anything wrong with virtual friends, don't get me wrong. It's just even better to meet someone in real time).

This week I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Pipany. I love her blog, and the way she weaves tales of family life with sewing, cooking, and let's be honest, the odd tipple or two! Even better, She's cornish and lives about 25 miles away from me, so it was perhaps inevitable that sooner or later we'd meet up. I've been really looking forward to this, the date's been in the diary for several weeks. We met on tuesday at The Little Yellow House - a pretty craft shop in Penryn, with a few cafe tables as well. Crafts, coffee, cake...and lovely company, what more could you want? Pipany gave me a lovely warm welcome...and from that moment we did not stop talking....about life, families, knitting, sewing (and machines), blogging, finding a worm in your sloe gin, and more. Pipany is great fun - warm, humorous, stylish (and tiny!), generous and amusing. On leaving the little cafe we were both shocked to see that nearly four hours had flown by. It's what happens when you're having fun!

I was also spoiled by some wonderful Pipany goodies - this gorgeous Lauren tote bag, with lots of handy pockets


and a contrasting striped lining. This is intended for my knitting supplies and on-the-go projects.


A wee little bag of treasure from our cornish beaches...


...and in readiness for christmas, a hand embroidered stripey padded heart, with loop for hanging. I've been spoiled rotten! Thank you so much, Pip...and here's to next time, the one where we plan to scoff mince pies!


And that has been the highlight of an otherwise humdrum week where the wind and rain has whistled around my little house with an unseasonal ferocity. Where I have stubbornly refused to turn the heating on because I just don't until November...so I have been sitting with about five layers on, scarf and fingerless gloves. Mmm, frozen and frugal just about sums it up.

Have a happy (and warm) weekend.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

A great idea!

Frogdancer has just alerted me to this post - I think it's a great idea. Go and check it out and sign up!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Warm as toast

One of the advantages of holding the fort at the b&b over the weekend was snuggling up in front of the woodburner each evening, with nothing to distract me apart from the mesmerising flames and my knitting. Two long stints, and I finished these.


Made specifically for dog-walking (my use, not Walter's), I used a purple and a grey jaeger dk merino from my stash, two strands held together. This makes rather dense, thick wristwarmers, but perfect for keeping out the cold. One of them has a slightly-too-tight bind off, but I can just about get it on and off.


Also, binding off in the round means I get this last loose stitch which doesn't join up properly. Any tips on what I should be doing here? I stitched it up when weaving in the ends, and it doesn't show as the cuff rolls back, but there must be something I'm missing somewhere....

Saturday, 25 October 2008

This morning



I'm staying at a friend's for a couple of nights, looking after her b&b while she's away

Heavenly skies at both ends of the day

A treat to be out of town

Silence, but for the whispers of nature

Darkness

Stillness

I may be working, but it feels like time out!

Happy weekend to you all

x x x

Last night

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Just knitted

Just off the needles - my new scarf. Modelled, a touch reluctantly, by Walter (he would not sit up, clearly modelling scarves is not his forte).


Knit in garter stitch with Noro Iro, shade 65, on 6.5mm needles, inspired by Suzanne.


Apart from knitting dishcloths and a rabbit, and squares towards my blanket, this is the only other thing I've ever knitted properly.

Here's to lots more. These are on the needles now (no thumbs...next time). Have you seen Ali's? Gorgeous colours!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

A foraging feast

It's hard to know where to start with my foray into foraging, and really do it justice - it was full-on from the moment we started, and yet wonderfully relaxed.


About twelve of us gathered to experience a Fat Hen foraging and feasting weekend in the far west of Cornwall, not far from my home. I was also joined by Kristina and her husband G, who'd travelled down from London - such fun to have another blogger joining in. Our day started with coffee and hogweed biscotti, followed by a demonstration of how to make halloumi cheese and ricotta, and home-baked soda bread. We then headed off for our first forage on the sea shore, with St Michael's Mount as the backdrop. We collected all manner of leaves for our lunch, and checked out the varieties of seaweed freely available below the tide line, and followed this with flasks of seaweed broth (delicious!) while sprawled on the rocks. Back to base for lunch, and a cooking demonstration with tips on how to make the perfect risotto, and a salsa verde.


Our meals were taken in The Goat Barn - a beautiful converted barn next to Caroline and Frank's home. Lunch was Alexanders Risotto, foraged salad leaves, and warm soda bread.


Our afternoon was spent on a different part of the coastline, at Gwenvor and Sennen, identifying more edible plants and seaweeds. We were met at the far end of the beach by Matt, one of our chefs, who cooked up a quick snack of black pudding and laver, accompanied by a fabulous japanese knotweed caipiroska (vodka caiprinha) on crushed ice. Yum! Back to the barns for more cooking - preparing potted rabbit, and home-smoked mackerel for sunday's lunch.


Our evening feast in the candle-lit and cosy Goat Barn kicked off with halloumi and pigeon breast appetizers, along with deep-fried seaweed (heaps better than your local chinese!), followed by pan-fried mackerel and salsa verde with potatoes. Dessert was a delicate carageen milk pudding with elderberry port wine sauce and fennel shortbread. Copious quantities of wine were also consumed!

Sunday brought slightly gloomier weather, but at least it stayed dry. We foraged in the surrounding hedgerows and farmland, collecting common sorrel, sheep's sorrel, gorse flowers, pink purslane, wood sorrel...and more. We stopped for hedgerow teas at Boscowan Un stone circle, sampling yarrow and meadowsweet. Back for lunch - fritatta, tortilla, various salads, fresh sea bass, potted rabbit and more.... I came home buzzing - from all the fun, the delicious gourmet food, the potential of foraging, the cooking tips, the fantastic location, and most of all the warmth, knowledge and generosity of Caroline and Frank, and chefs Matt and Claire.

If you would like to spend a weekend doing something a little bit different, and you love cooking and eating, and want to learn about foraging, then join Fat Hen for a weekend. I can't rate it highly enough!

There's also a great review here.