Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Phew! I've been trying to post for ages (read: weeks) but kept getting annoying messages about having reached my photo storage limit. It seems to have resolved itself now as this post seems to be out there...

Anyway, I've been taking note of a few promising things that have been getting me through these grey days. Although, today is not one of them - I woke up to the most amazing hoar frost, as did many others judging by the excitement and wonderful photos popping up all over the place.

So, to the point in hand: 

  • the promise of spring, in spite of winter having only just set in - my paperwhites, adorned with red cornus stems from the front garden.

  • basil seedlings, slowly germinating on the kitchen windowsill, to liven up our pasta and paninis.

  • tooth-like crocus bulbs pushing through the soil and gravel on the garden table

  • a greenhouse full of autumn sown sweet peas and other seedlings, in anticipation of my exciting new cutting garden next year. (HG meaning from the seed man himself, Mr Higgledy Garden)

  • hellebores in my pots and dotted through my front garden with big fat buds ready to open in the coldest season. Will I dare to cut them?

  • a skein of sumptuously soft yarn that promises to warm my neck up sometime soon. Very soon, I hope.

Monday, 19 November 2012

A quilt for No2...

I made my twentieth quilt! Yes, a score of quilts now under my belt in the last four years, something that when I actually counted up, I couldn't quite believe.

So it seems rather apt, that after all that amount of practice, I have finally made one for No2. Fortunately, he's not the nagging type or the sort that begs for my handmade creations, so I'm trying not to feel any guilt at all that he has only just got his very own heirloom.

It began life back at the beginning of July with the intention of making it his 16th birthday present (which was at the end of August) but the crafting disaster of 2012 put it on the back burner and I had to confess that it wouldn't be ready and wrapped for the big day. The design is something that I had seen somewhere ages ago but stupidly not pinned and so unfortunately I cannot link back to. I used this tutorial for making the half square triangles from a layer cake (10" squares) and some deliciously dark charcoal cotton. Needing more fabric, I then picked some goodies from The Village Haberdashery to make up the final amount needed. 

I whiled away the afternoons more recently, hand-quilting and had forgotten how much I love doing this as the last few quilts I have made have been machine-quilted. {Confession: I did start machine-quilting this but it went horribly wrong due to some of the seams being on the bias because of the construction method ... cue some swearing and another playdate with the seam ripper}

On the back, I used one of the extra wide quilt backing fabrics from M is for Make. I'm not overly keen on it as I think the quality of the fabric isn't up to much and seemed a little slippery which made for plenty of puckers and other minor unsightly bits.

Yesterday's sunshine meant that I had to remove it from the shoulders of its new owner and take some quick pics of it in the garden. You can see from the creases that within just 24 hours it has been well used! 

As ever, there are plans afoot for the next quilt. One that I have been itching to make a start on for a-g-e-s but will have to wait a while before I dare master the curved seam.  I have the pattern, the fabric, the special foot for my machine and the perspex template but am lacking the nerve to give it a go. A New Year's resolution, perhaps?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Back in the summer when I was in the throes of the daily delights of bringing flowers into the house that I had successfully grown myself, I got to thinking about bigger and better things. It seemed that the three raised beds that I had reutilised to feed this new-found passion were simply not enough. I found myself looking over the back fence at the allotment plot that I once worked until the sheer scale of it became too daunting for me to fit into what was, back then, a busier time in life.

One afternoon a few months ago, I could hear the solitary allotmenteer busy trying to cut the grass that surrounds the five plots and decided to bite the bullet and ask about taking on a plot again. The view that confronted me over the fence was pretty scary but then I knew that the four remaining plots hadn't been worked since I gave up back in 2008. I'm not sure how that little patch of bare earth in the photo below has survived the onslaught of weeds but it gave me a taste of how things could be.

After giving it a little bit more thought, I took action. I knew that I wouldn't be able to even contemplate clearing the plot on my own and so with the help of the lovely Sara, who I met on Twitter, I employed some muscle and now look!

My masterplan is to keep the majority of it covered overwinter so that I have a glorious blank canvas to work with next year. Who knew that I'd get so excited to order tarpaulins? Or manure?! But excited I am and my head is buzzing with plans about what to grow.

First up and in the ground are raspberries.  I did a bit of research (again, on Twitter) and got loads of responses back about the best and most reliable varieties. I've also got some golden ones on order.

I'm hoping that this weekend I can get a couple of other things in the ground just to get the ball rolling and then I can dream and list and plan and pin to my heart's content over the coming months.

I'm really hoping that I can have some fun with this space and that it reflects the things that are important to me. I'm thinking of a patchwork of growing space: one that is practical and pleasing to look at.

What are you plotting?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Miscellany ...

It's funny, I've been itching to write a blog post but there seem to be too many thoughts in my head to focus on any one subject at the moment. It's not that I've been idle either. I now have to structure my day by taking regular breaks from doing anything for too long that requires me to adopt a 'head down' position, in order to keep my neck healthy and to continue healing. So that includes all forms of making and creating. Even doing the ironing is all about looking down, for goodness sake!

Also, I find that my posts are usually so clearly defined by the photos I take but in these days of Twitter and Instagram, my pictures somehow feel a little second-hand.

I just looked through my Photostream and realised that, actually, there are some photos that I'd like to share and the story behind them, so here goes:

  • No2 went to Iceland over half term last week. I offered to go as a parent helper but was told that I wouldn't be needed, which I thought was rather unfair. By all accounts, he had a great time but the food was terrible! I was a good mother and filled his suitcase with suitable rubbish (read Pringles and Haribo) to tide him over, which I was reliably informed that he was rationing to last the week. Oh dear...

  • As if one rainbow isn't enough by the waterfall ...

  • The highlight of his trip was to The Blue Lagoon. He didn't get any photos but we were excited to watch on the live webcam while he was actually in there! I do love this little video he made of a geyser doing its thing too.

  • Meanwhile, back at home, I have enjoyed the morning sun finding its way onto my table.

  • And then, in the evening, sitting with the twinkle of candlelight in an effort to embrace the dark evenings.

Friday, 26 October 2012

A Textured Shawl...

I finally finished the knitting project I cast on way back in the summer while I was on holiday in Majorca. The one that got put on hold when I slipped the disc in my neck and the one that I now cannot wait to drape around my shoulders now that the evenings have got chilly.

I used the Suri merino yarn that was specified in the pattern and it is simply the softest, most beautiful yarn I have ever worked with.

The stitch definition is gorgeous, in spite of it being the tiniest bit fluffy. I particularly love the textured part of the pattern.

My faithful model, Mrs Jennings, is *ahem* a little skinnier than me and so she needs it folded above her neck a little. I blocked it (something I rarely do) as the textured parts did draw the shawl in a tad and  it is now pleasingly triangular. This yarn has a fabulous drape to it.

I bought the pin at Loop earlier in the year, knowing that I had a couple of shawl-type projects in the pipeline. I may have to re-watch Cranford in this now and feel very much in character.

All details Ravelled here.

What's on your needles?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Unexpected memories...

A few weeks ago I went to visit the most beautiful garden on one of its open days with the National Gardening Scheme. Its owner, Philippa, had tweeted some photographs of her garden earlier on in September and I commented that it looked like the garden of my dreams. To see it for myself was a treat I couldn't resist. And so, one bright Sunday morning we set off.

My photos really don't do any justice to the garden, but here are a few of my favourites.

I adored the planting and came home brimming with inspiration for next year.

This chicken wire fox would be a welcome addition to my garden - somewhere down near the chicken coop would be perfect! Isn't he fabulous?


I hadn't been in the garden very long when I realised that it had a very familiar feeling to it:

When I was young, we had family in rural Essex who we visited maybe once a year and were always told to be on our absolute best behaviour (as if two young girls could ever be on anything else!). My great-aunt lived there, with my Dad's cousin (her daughter) but I only ever remember going there when it was just my great-aunt at home. Perhaps we were too naughty to be presented to this elusive relative and her husband? There was also a second cousin (I think that's what he was to me!) but he went to boarding school and so he was also very mysterious to my sister and me at such a young age. The threat of boarding school was always present, as though it were a huge punishment.

There was lots about the house that kept us in awe. It was huge for a start and set in 27 acres of land, 26 of which were woodland that edged up to the lawn at the back of the garden and into which, we were warned NEVER to set foot in. I remember begging my Dad to take us in, but I don't think we ever went further than a few feet to collect mushrooms.

I asked my mum to dig out a few photos to see if my memory was being reliable about the similarities to Philippa's garden. I think the style of the house and the gravel drive are quite alike and probably what set the memory machine in motion.  This photo was probably taken in the late '60's.

The gardens were my aunt's pride and joy. To have the space to run around in was always such a treat; there was always a new area to discover - a kitchen garden, a greenhouse with peaches and cacti, a rose garden with a fountain. (That's me, in the anorak!) It all looks quite newly planted in these photos and I've been wondering what it would perhaps look like now. I have looked on Google Earth, but it is all a bit grainy.

The biggest thrill for my sister and I was the trampoline and climbing frame, and in later years, there was a swimming pool. (That's me, below, hanging upside down!)

We absolutely loved going there for so many reasons. It felt so far removed from our normal lives in the suburbs of London. We played croquet on the lawn and were allowed into the sitting room in the afternoon, where I started my love affair with Scrabble. My aunt was my inspiration into the world of craft and sewing and I would love to sit and sew with her. Her embroidery was a thing of beauty and I always wanted to have a sewing purse that I carried with me at all times in my (vast) handbag.

It's funny, isn't it, what will trigger a barrage of memories? Philippa, thank you so much for opening and sharing your fabulous garden. It was an absolute treat and the cake was excellent ; )

Friday, 28 September 2012

A week in pictures...

Thank you so much for leaving me such heartfelt comments on my anniversary post.  I wrote the post last week and scheduled it to publish while I was away for the weekend. What a treat to come back to lots of lovely comments!

The last seven days have been filled productively, so in the spirit of continuing with my online journal, this post will be photo heavy and short on words!

Sunset on Chesil Beach, last weekend


Coffee at somewhere rather special in Axminster

Fishing off the beach. Check out the concentration!

Fresh mackerel for dinner

I managed to squeeze in one last camping weekend, in Dorset. The mackerel went from sea to plate in less than an hour. Hugh would've been proud of me!  We had two sunny days and a final day of persistent rain, but hey-ho! I got a very soggy tent dried at home eventually.

Getting dressed up on Wednesday...

... to attend a luncheon at Wadham College, Oxford University for Women of the Year, raising awareness for The Mulberry Bush School

I was thrilled to have been nominated for this fund-raising lunch. I thoroughly lapped up the experience and tradition of the day and was entertained afterwards by Emma Bridgewater and Dame Catherine Wybourne. I'm struggling to describe how it felt to be sat amongst 160 women. I felt very honoured, yet hugely welcomed.

There has also been a meeting of minds from a friend who I 'met' on Twitter, a bit of cooking, a bit of coping with decreasing pain medication but not a lot of crafting. Yet. I'm dying to get back to my sewing machine or knitting needles. This weekend, though, the garden is calling to me to finish off some jobs and do some general tidying after the wild and windy weather of the last week.  Have a good one, whatever you may be doing.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A five year anniversary...

:: the patchwork of my life ::

Who knew when I first started writing this blog that I would be able to maintain the momentum of it continuing for five years? And yet here we are today, marking that very anniversary.

It has been my place to record the minutiae of my life and has brought me many unexpected things in return: wonderful friendships, a sense of community, a passion for crafting and being creative, intensified by the joy of sharing.

I like to think of it as a colourful space and one that reflects my outlook on life. It is ridiculously obvious from a mere glance through this blog where my passions lie. This year, more so I think, than any other, a huge focus has been on my garden. The colour I add outside is interpreted into what happens inside. Having said that, my garden, like the inside of my home isn't necessarily a riot of colour in all its permutations, but instead I like to add punches of it now and then. And that is a good thing as there have been periods of intense darkness, as regular readers will understand.

This blog also gave me a taste of how it feels to write about the things that are important to me and through it I found the confidence to write about how it felt when Tom died enough to be able to embark on a soul-searching journey that ended in the publication earlier this year of my book. Sometimes my posts require few words and at other times, I find that the words are flowing freely and my fingers are moving swiftly over the keyboard. I like that often, my photographs speak for themselves and I have never felt more inspired to capture elements of life and have them all in one place.

This chair that I re-upholstered (freestyle as I went along, using one of my favourite fabric collections), now has pride of place in my kitchen. It has become quite a talking point and one that I have been nagged (you know who you are!) about blogging about on many occasions. So it finds itself here, in this post, and reflects exactly what my blog and the whole blogging experience has come to mean to me: the patchwork of who I am and what I like (and don't like), in all its mismatched glory.

You never know what the next post will contain. I never know! I just mosey along and when the mood takes me, I blog.

So there you have it. Sort of in a nutshell. I am hugely proud of this space and long may it continue. Who knows what it will become? I have the inkling of an idea in my mind about perhaps taking my crafting to another level so the focus might change. I hope not too much. Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Weaving with willow...

If you follow me on Twitter, you will have the heads up on the most fabulous of days I had on Tuesday when I found myself in deepest, darkest Cambridgeshire learning the art of weaving willow.

When Celia tweeted about a skills swap she had done with Debbie of Salix Arts, I found myself, along with Mrs Dottycookie and Mrs Silverpebble, getting enthusiastic about it to the point where a workshop was arranged especially for us.

We were blessed with a crisp sunny day and soon were completely immersed in the task to hand. There was barely a whisper, which is very unusual for when bloggers meet!

Debbie is a fantastic teacher and we were quickly on the way to creating with this wonderful natural material. I knew I wanted to make a plant support for the garden so having been given a quick tutorial, things began to take shape.

I'm not sure if you can tell from the photo above, but there are a couple of different weaves happening there - the middle section being a fence weave. I loved working with the continuous amount of willow that you just added to as and when necessary to create a flowing design.

I think it is possible that my favourite part of my structure is this knot that secured all the ends together. Isn't it beautiful?

I love the natural ends of the willow so much, I couldn't bear to chop them off.

So here is my ta-dah! I'm not entirely sure I will want to cover it with foliage next year and so I'm thinking I might just have it as a focal point somewhere in the garden.

Oh! And there was cake!

Thank you so much, ladies, for yet another superb crafty, bloggy day xx