Friday 24 December 2010

Seasons Greetings

Wishing you all a Happy and Peaceful Christmas

Saturday 18 December 2010

Let's play in the snow

Rosy cheeks and tingling toes....... how well I remember that 'snow play' feeling.

This delightful picture is on the front cover of the 1951 Lucie Attwell Annual. Don't you just love it.

Do read this little verse as I think it speaks for children everywhere.

This little tot's wishes have certainly been answered here in Britain as Mr Forecast Man has been warning us all week about imminent 'normous falls of snow. And now the white stuff has well and truly arrived for the second time this month. Children everywhere will be whooping with joy whilst their unfortunate parents are most likely snowbound with no hope of reaching the shops for all those last minute Christmas essentials.

Fortunately I acquired my Christmas tree from a local farm yesterday before this recent snow fall but I won't be bringing it indoors for a couple of days (it's currently staying warm and dry in the garage).

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well whatever your weather.

Until next time.

Monday 13 December 2010

Images of Christmas by Ferrandiz

In 1960s Britain, Christmas cards depicting scenes by Spanish artist Juan Ferrandiz began to make an appearance and they proved hugely popular. I wonder how many of you remember pictures like this? I found them so appealing that I squirreled away any that I came across and have just rediscovered them in a box in the attic.

My Mum bought this Woman's Own magazine in 1965 and once she'd finished reading it I was allowed to remove the cover.

The picture below appeared in a Sunday Times colour supplement in the late 1960s.

The Ferrandiz style of painting children with softly lit faces is instantly recognisable.

The cards above and below date from the mid 1970s

Juan Ferrandiz was a Spanish illustrator specializing in stories for children and Christmas cards. He was also a sculptor and writer of poems and stories for children. He was born in Barcelona (Spain) in 1918 and died in August 1997 at the age of 79.

To see more Christmas pictures by this artist try searching for Jaun Ferrandiz in Google Images.

Monday 6 December 2010

The glow of candlelight

I received this Christmas card in this morning's post and was immediately transported back to Christmases of long ago. More about the card at the end of the post.

Meanwhile, I couldn't resist gathering together a few of my 'treasures' and using the card as a background for this little candlelit scene. At this time of year what could be more evocative than the glow of candle light on polished wood.

The candlestick, inkwell and wine glass are Victorian, the letter is older and dated 1779

For more Christmas inspiration I needed to look no further than the wonderful scenes created by Dutch artist Anton Pieck? He was born in 1895 and lived to the grand old age of 92. His work has always been a great favourite of mine and several of his prints hang on the walls around my house. I just love the attention to detail in every picture and the muted colours and dark interiors give each scene a very Dickensian atmosphere.


Clockmaker's shop

Bakers' shop


During Britain's current freezing conditions our poor garden birds are looking very bedraggled and are devouring any food I put out for them. Sadly my feathered friends were not prepared to pose for my camera this morning so I took a few pics of our garden plants prettily laced with frost and snow. How they survive such conditions is a mystery to me.

Finally, back to the card. Because I've been a returning customer over the years I receive a similarly beautiful card each Christmas from a company with the splendid name 'Lovers of Blue and White'.  They sell blue and white china (old and new) and their web site is well worth a visit if, like me, you are a lover of the stuff.

I couldn't go without showing you one more little scene that I put together using my early Georgian teapot and tea bowl. Accompanying the card was a blue and white 'Christmas wish list' and it definitely is!

By the way, in case you were curious, that isn't tea in the little bowl it's cinnamon and clove scented pot pourri which I like placing in the dining room at this time of year.

Friday 3 December 2010

Through the car window!

By yesterday afternoon we'd not experienced any fresh snow and as we were tired of being housebound we decided to take a trip to a nearby town. The roads were clear and the snowy hillsides made a very pretty picture.

We soon reached the motorway where driving is never pleasurable in these conditions. 

As we travelled north the skies darkened.

Clouds came down to meet the road obscuring the mountains on either side.

Thankfully we'd soon driven through the cloud and as we left the mountains behind the skies cleared and blue was visible again

In town there were Christmas decorations festooning every shop. These bright shades make a welcome change from the traditional greens and reds although I don't think I'd decorate my tree with them. 

We spent quite a while browsing but as the air grew more chill it was time to head for home.

As we drove homewards towards the setting sun the roads were quite empty.

As always, it feels good to be home.
Enjoy your weekend, wherever you are

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Dollies dilemma

Here we are again! Only a few months since the last fall of heavy snow and Britain has again ground to a halt. Admittedly it's come early this year and taken everyone by surprise so the only thing to do is stay snug and warm indoors and enjoy the prettiness outside. As you can see, unlike other areas the white stuff hasn't hit us too hard in England's Lakeland ....yet!

Needless to say I'm using my enforced confinement to work on my dolls house and am surrounded by books containing pretty pictures and fascinating information about dollies from days gone by.

This engraving dates from the 1500s. Isn't it wonderful.

And here is an eighteenth century engraving showing a doll with strings attached so that it could be taken for a walk by its young owner.

Early dolls were very precious and were only taken out on special occasions when play would have been strictly supervised.

Early wooden dolls like the one above are known as 'Queen Anne dolls' and they have always fascinated me. I'm wondering if I should have made mini replicas of these for my early Georgian house rather than the more contemporary style that I made (pictured below). What do you think?

Lady Danville of course is completely oblivious to my deliberations about whether she is the correct style of doll or not. She is spending her days choosing fabric for windows and four poster beds from a vintage pattern book of damask swatches.

Meanwhile, if you live in the northern hemisphere like me then I hope you are keeping warm. If you live in the south I'm envious as I'm sure you'll all be basking in warm sunshine.

Thursday 25 November 2010

My miniature world

Greetings friends. After spending several weeks concentrating on my knitting I decided to take time off and do something completely different. So sit down for a while and I will explain.

I love dolls (as I think you know) and it has always been my ambition to create a tiny family to reside in their own miniature world. Several years ago I made the family but never got round to giving them anywhere to live.

However, for the past couple of weeks I've been busy building a dolls house from a kit I acquired. I want everything to be as historically accurate as possible and have chosen the early Georgian period.

Here is the front of the house waiting to be painted.

The children are very excited and can't wait to move in.

But moving day is some way off as the stairs have yet to be fixed in place.

I'm fascinated by antique miniature houses. The one below dates from the 1730s and is on display at Nostell Priory in Yorkshire. It is early Georgian so is giving me lots of ideas and inspiration.

Of course my house won't be anything like this one!

Lots more inspiration is comng from the dolls house books I've collected over the years. This one is a great favourite

My tiny family will want to fill their rooms with early Georgian furniture so the book below is proving very useful.

and fireplaces, lighting and other period details must look just right throughout the house.

Meanwhile, Squire Danville, head of my household, is happily going about his daily business and ignoring the building work going on all around him.....typical!

I'll keep you updated on my progress, but now I have some stairs to fix.

Friday 12 November 2010

Tiny Topsy the tooth fairy

Just straight knitting, no shaping, no strange abbreviations and easy to follow instructions with lots of pictures to guide you. This is what you'll find in the FREE PATTERN for Tiny Topsy, the doll that I promised to design for new knitters. She's just the right size for a doll house and little girls will love her so I hope you'll be tempted to give her a go. Before I give you the pattern details I thought you'd like to see Tiny Topsy at home.

Tiny Topsy lives in a tiny house with lots of other dolls, but Topsy is special. The little girl who owns the house knows that when a wobbly tooth falls out she must leave it on Topsy's tiny table.

When the little girl is fast asleep Tiny Topsy works her magic and becomes a tiny tooth fairy. Her little pearl button brooch turns into a pretty pearl necklace and her knitted apron becomes lace. She has pink ribbons in her hair and a golden crown. But best of all, her fluffy duster changes into a magic wand.

The fairy waves her wand and the little girl's tooth magically becomes a shiny silver coin.

In the morning when the little girl wakes up she remembers the tooth and runs to Tiny Topsy's table. The tooth has gone and in it's place she finds the silver coin.

Tiny Topsy smiles because only she knows the secret of the tooth fairy's magic.

* * * * * *

If you know a little girl who'd love to own a Tiny Topsy tooth fairy why knit one for her. She's an upside down (topsy turvy) doll and very easy to make.

I have produced a PDF pattern which you can download onto your computer and print out. You might find downloading the pattern takes a few seconds.

Click for TINY TOPSY - FREE PATTERN - Have fun and happy knitting.

The little video links below should prove useful for people who are very new to the craft.
1). How to CAST ON - (easy method for beginners)
2). How to KNIT
3). How to PURL
4). How to knit STOCKING STITCH also known as STOCKINETTE STITCH - (this is simply one row of knit stitches alternated with one row of purl stitches ...... easy).