Thursday, 23 February 2012

One foot in Winter, one foot in Spring

Just days ago winter definitely had us in its grip. There was snow and freezing temperatures. Yet today there is a mildness to the weather. There is sunshine and bees. We're on the cusp of Spring.

Despite the hopeful change in the season things have not been so easy for us here. It's been a week when normally I would not have posted. I like to keep my blog uplifting if I can but I'm co-hosting Making Winter Week and sometimes it helps to write things down.

To help ourselves through this tough time we've been cosying up, eating simple comfort foods and I got out my long-neglected watercolours. Eldest and I painted together. The activities we are finding reassuring are the same as those that help in the depths of winter. We've been very grateful for our fire and cosy quilts in recent days.

This morning things were getting a little easier and I drove to the next village to photograph the pussy willow (and unexpectedly captured a kestrel I didn't even know was flying overhead). In just over three months a good friend will be coming from far away to stay right here. It's a lovely thought.

On my way home I stopped to photograph some wintry knapweed seedheads and realised there was a lark singing.

Sometimes being outdoors can be better than chocolate.

Edited to add: Today's taste of Spring has coincided with things getting a good deal better for us all. I'm off to celebrate with a play on the swings with the little ones.

If you'd like to share what you've been up to this week, another good friend is hosting here.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Holiday snaps

Vintage purchases from The Girls' Own Store in Bridport.

West Bay beach.

An early violet growing next to the stream in Portesham.

These are a few holiday snaps from out much-needed break in Dorset last week. I almost feel more of a thrill being at the beach in winter. I like the feeling of having the beach to ourselves. One afternoon all four of us went to Eype and the girls discovered how much fun can be had with a few hundred thousand pebbles. 

It was very good to be away but it's funny how coming home always reminds me how fond I am of our little house. 

The very last Making Winter week will begin tomorrow and you can join in over at Thriftyhousehold. It hardly seems possible that both winter, and this project are almost over. I have pie plans- after all, British Pie Week is coming up and I'd like to get some practice in.

Edited to add: there's a space available on my beginners' beading workshop this coming Saturday (25th). We'll be making necklaces with tiny found objects, vintage buttons and gemstones.

Friday, 10 February 2012

A kiln of one's own

Anyone who reads this blog will know that I have a love affair with silver. Add enamel to silver, though, and my excitement levels go through the roof. The liquid glass-like colour with silver beneath it is utterly beautiful and it's been nearly four years since I wanted to make my own enamelled pieces. 

I went to learn how with Lynne in 2010, borrowed Juliet's kiln, and was on the point of buying my own last summer, when suddenly my car needed mending.  The kiln plan was shelved for a while, but yesterday my very own tiny, shiny kiln arrived. The picture above is what 800 degrees looks like. Fiery.

My kiln's arrival is timely: I heard this week that I've been accepted to have a stall at the Selvedge Spring Fair and I needed some fresh designs for the new year. Frankly the ideas have been tumbling over one another, spinning about in my head and keeping me awake some nights. The common thread for all of these part-formed ideas, though, is enamel.

The shards of Victorian pottery I keep finding in the garden (picture above taken last summer) have been inspiring me, as has Alice's recommended reading, vintage lace and feedsack florals, Moorcroft, William de Morgan, Archibald Knox and CFA Voysey

This is the first piece I made today with my brand new kiln, once I had managed to channel the jumbled ideas from my head into my hands for an hour or two. It's a tiny sample, far from perfect and there's still lots of sketching to do and designs to refine but it feels wonderful to make something and not have to dash across the fens to return the kiln afterwards.

I ordered twelve new enamel colours today. I can hardly wait until they arrive. I guess it's the same feeling passionate knitters or crocheters must have after they've just ordered some beautiful new yarn.

I made a tiny silver garden trowel today too.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Winter colour

I'm overdue with the mosaics from last month's Making Winter festivities. It's rather a grey day here today so some cheerful colour was needed. Thankyou so much to all who have been reading, commenting, flickring and blogging so far this season. 

I'm collecting together all the lovely wintry recipes that have been posted and will be putting them onto a separate page to visit during emergencies or when comfort baking is required.

The next week of seasonal creativity will begin over at Thriftyhousehold on Monday 20th February. There will be no particular theme - it will simply be a record of the good things about this time of year. 

Photo credits:

1. Daisley 2. No Knitted Knickers 3. The Fluff Pot 4. Andamento
5. Little Cotton Rabbits 6. Saidos de Concha 7. Mrs Micawber 8. Far from Harm Farm
9. Little Cotton Rabbits 10. Yellowhouse72 11. Itchin Stitchin 12. Wild Acre
13. Bristol Parenting Cafe 14. Saidos da Concha 15. Scented Sweetpeas 16. Itchin Stitchin

Monday, 6 February 2012

A good day

Detail of a handmade project bag from Monica

I'd been waiting for Saturday to arrive for months.

The plan: Crafts, Cake and Chat.

The people: bloggers- Tracy, Ali, Monica, Julie, Val, Nancy and Alice.

The grub: excellent.

There were beautiful gifts (including very chic herb containers from Alice, felted rings from Ali and a daily survival kit from Val).

There were knitting masterclasses, Etsy discussions and debates about twitter.

We saw the Little Cotton Rabbits. They're even more lovely in real life.

Tiny crochet owls were made and hand knitted socks and tiny cardigans grew longer.

Beautiful vintage cottons from Nancy.

Mostly, though, there was laughter, and scoffing.

We could have chatted into the evening but the snow forecasts sent us home.

Thankyou so much, Tracy, for suggesting and hosting and to this lovely group of women for making it such a good, good day. I think we're all a little sad that it's over. I suppose we all knew that getting together with like-minded people is a very good thing to do. I think we just need to do it more often.

Here is a picture I took on Saturday of a blogger, taking a picture of a blogger, taking a picture of Julie's cake.