Tuesday 28 June 2011

Button love

I was tempted to buy a large bag of multi coloured buttons last week and since bringing them home have had endless fun sorting through them.

The colours are just yummy and they'll mix and match well with my rainbow selection of knitting yarn.

I placed a small selection of buttons on various ginghams and was surprised how different the colours of the buttons appeared on each. The same buttons are used in each photo.


The bag of buttons is just the sort of thing my mum would have bought for me at the start of a school holiday as she'd have known they would have kept me occupied for days. A needle and thread were always within easy reach at our house and I know for sure that apart from stitching them onto dolly clothes etc I'd have had endless fun creating (and wearing) zingy coloured bracelets and necklaces.

With baby brothers in the family I would of course have been warned not to leave stray buttons within easy reach of inquisitive hands.

With the school holidays approaching I thought I'd recommend 'Made by Me' by Jane Bull. The ideas and illustrations are delightfully tempting and just right for young girls who show an interest in sewing and knitting. I know my own daughter would have loved it.

There are some clever storage ideas for all those bits and pieces every crafter collects.

Some great ways to decorate a plain T-shirt

An easy rag doll to make and dress

There's even a knitted hat for your dolly to wear. I was thrilled to see knitting had been included in the book as I'd like to see all youngsters learning to knit.

Simple sewing and embroidery stitches are described and illustrated and there are numerous cute items to tempt young crafters.

Last week I stumbled across blogs by two youngsters Karn and Margo. They use their blogs to post pictures of their drawings and paintings. I think this is a wonderful way for children to keep a record of their work and of course show their artistic creations to a large audience.

You can see their blogs here:
Karn Draws.
My Strawberry Unicorns

If you have a creative little person (under the age of 10) with a blog that is used to post art or craft work done by this child please do let me know, I'd love to see it and will add it to my list.

Until next time,

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Summer begins

Well, its officially the first day of summer today and I've chosen this pretty floral fabric as inspiration for the new dolly I've been planning. The fabric is named 'Summertime' and I've just realised it is a UK product. We used to be world leaders in cotton production and for centuries our mills produced cotton fabric that was exported around the globe. But those days have gone and now most of what we use is imported so it's really good to see some fabric with a UK label.

I love matching yarns to printed fabrics and as you can see work on the new doll has already started thanks to this little floral print. I know more or less what she will look like but am never averse to making changes to my plans along the way. I can't say how long the dolly will be in the making but while we are all confined indoors the knitting will continue.

The rain stopped for about five minutes this morning and as I had my camera handy I popped outside and took a few pics. I think they speak for themselves.

Meanwhile the dolls in the playroom gaze out of the widow longing for the rain to stop so that they can enjoy some much needed outdoor fun.

Back to the knitting!

Sunday 19 June 2011

A woolly sort out

We really are having the most dismally wet summer here in northern Britain. Yesterday, to add a bit of colour to the day, I decided to sort through my knitting yarn. I do this from time to time as it can get into a terrible tangle. I like to separate the various shades into different boxes as it makes mixing and matching yummy colours a lot easier.

I never know what I will find when I'm having a sort out. Below is something I started knitting before Easter but I can't remember what it was going to be. I like the colour combination so might hang on to it in case it provides inspiration for a future project.

In the cupboard I have a large bag of knitted experiments and unfinished items. Here are just a few of them. When creating a new pattern it can take two or three attempts to get something looking just right. I used to pull back all my trial pieces but now I often keep them as they can provide a useful guide when planning new toys.

Meanwhile, the dolls continue to remind me of what I should be thinking about, namely knitting a larger playroom friend who will fit nicely into this rather large chair.

Thank you dolls, I think I've got the message!!

Friday 17 June 2011

The playroom chair

There's an old wooden chair in the playroom which provides the dolls with a constant source of amusement but also concern. The amusement comes from taking turns to climb into the chair. As you can see, a helping hand is always required and the smaller you are the more difficult the challenge.

The concern comes from there not being a playroom doll that is big enough to fit comfortably in the chair.

Two small dollies prove the point.

When I asked what we should do about it the dolls disappeared and returned with a Raggedy Ann book.

They quickly turned to this page.

When I saw a picture of sweet Raggedy Ann sitting on an old wooden chair it quickly became evident that the dolls were looking for a similar friend to join them in the playroom.

Someone who was just the right size to fit in their old wooden chair.

Someone to share meals with.

And a kindly someone who would tell them bedtime stories on dark nights.

I explained that we didn't have a Raggedy Ann living here.

But my explanation fell on deaf ears and a wooden cart was wheeled in which the dolls proceeded to fill with yarn.

From the colours they chose it was easy to see what they were trying to tell me!

I'm guessing these little rascals were telling me that they'd like their own Raggedy Ann doll to come and live with them in the playroom. I confess I have been asked several times by knitters if I'd create a knitting pattern for a Raggedy type doll but I've always shied away from the idea as for me there is only one Raggedy Ann. So any doll that I created might resemble the original but would require a different name, but what?

We'll have to put our thinking caps on here at Flutterby Patch and see what we can come up with. I'll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, enjoy your weekend

Tuesday 14 June 2011

A secret world

For some time I've been looking for a bell that I can ring to call hubby in from the garden. We have rather a sprawling plot and finding him when needed often requires quite a hike around his various hiding places (bonfire, shed, garage etc). Anyway, last week I discovered this beauty which makes an ear piercing sound when rung and hubby is able to hear it wherever he is working around the garden. He's attached it on the pergola beside the study door so whatever the weather I'm able to ring it furiously without having to walk very far.

This morning he's been mowing this strip across the lawn.

We let the grass grow long here until July so that the wild orchids can flower and set seed. We discovered one solitary orchid about 15 years ago and now we have about sixty.

Long grass in the garden always makes me think of the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson entitled 'The Dumb Soldier'. Its about a little boy who places his tiny toy soldier in long grass and forgets about him. There the solder lies watching bees and beetles as the grass grows ever longer. Then one day the grass is cut and the boy finds his soldier again and wonders what adventures he will have had.

This tiny fellow belongs to my son and I couldn't resist using him as an illustration.

When reunited with is pals he couldn't wait to tell them of his adventures.

There are nine little soldiers in total and they live inside a painted wooden egg. Before climbing back into the egg the little adventurer took a final look at the big wide world.

I'm sure he will now keep everyone entertained inside the egg with his tales of 'life in the long grass'.

Until next time

Friday 10 June 2011

Woolly memories

Thank you for your interesting comments on my last post. When Deborah at My Mom's Work mentioned how the smell of cherry wood brings back memories of her grandma's lovely home I was immediately transported back to my own granny's house. I used to love opening the door of her oak sideboard which had its own special aroma. Inside I knew I would find numerous knitting patterns to look at. The four dolls' clothes patterns below were part of her collection and date from the 1950s and 60s. Granny knitted endlessly and we often received surprise parcels containing all kinds of goodies, very often clothes for our dolls.

I was only very young when this sweet little Red Riding Hood doll arrived for me. She's a 15cm (6in) Roddy Doll. Her clothes are made from pure wool so inevitably moths have made a few holes in them over the years, but she brings back many happy memories of my childhood so I won't be making her a new outfit at the moment.

Meanwhile, our weather has taken a turn for the worse so the Flutterby Patch dollies are confined to the playroom once again. Fortunately Posy has taken charge and is making numerous trips to the wool shop to pick up yarn for my future knitting projects. The smaller dolls are taking turns to ride in the shopping cart and great fun is being had by all!

I hope the weekend weather will be kind to you in your part of the world.
Until next time

Monday 6 June 2011

Cottage love

Raise your hand if you dream of living in a pretty cottage in the country! . . . . . I think I can see a great many hands being raised out there!

It seems many of us bloggers would love to spend our days happily pottering around in a cosy little country dwelling that has 'olde world' features and roses growing round the door.

So, how about this little place? There are roses growing round the door, and joy of joys, there are even hollyhocks peeping in through the windows. . . . . I definitely want it! Just imagine sitting outside in the warm sunshine preparing your home grown summer fruits and vegetables.

I wonder why so many of us dream of such a rural idyll? Could it be a kind of inherited memory that has been passed down through the generations?

Or perhaps we've been influenced by the picture books we had as children. I can well remember wishing I could live in a little house like the one below (from my 'Tufty the Rabbit' book)

It didn't end with books of course, there were lots of other cottagy influences in my life. This little weather house for example (note the roses round the door).

My mum bought this little cottage lamp for my son when he was 2 years old. The cosy red glow lighting up the family of tiny teddies inside successfully lulled him to sleep on many a dark night.

Images of thatched cottages surrounded by pretty flower gardens were extremely popular from late Victorian times right through to the 1950s. This 1930's needlework book has a typical example on the cover and inside there are many more.

 Below is a birthday card that my granny received in the 1950s

I bought this Cottage interiors book about 15 years ago when 'country furniture' was very popular in Britain. Antique tables, chairs, dressers and chests made from dark oak and dating back 300 years were widely sought after and prices rocketed.

At the time old cottages were being snapped up and renovated and dark oak furniture was a must have.

Here are some more pictures from the book. . . .

Oak beams were high on the list of 'wants' as they added character to the cottage and were ideal to festoon with sweet smelling hops and herbs. And of course an inglenook fireplace was another essential feature.

Old baskets were hung from hooks in low ceilinged kitchens and antique dressers groaned under the weight of vintage china.

Tastes have changed quite a bit since then. We still have the dressers and china of course, but dark interiors have grown increasingly lighter and brighter. Brown furniture is often painted. I prefer the lighter look but also love old oak furniture that has a special glow achieved from centuries of waxing.

So I continue to dream of my perfect country cottage.

Would this be it perhaps? The garden is less colourful than my previous choice. The roses round the door have faded and the cabbages are ready for cutting.

These romantic flower-filled images of cottages and cottage dwellers were painted for wealthy town dwelling Victorians. In reality cottage life was very different to the images portrayed. Perhaps the one below would have been closer to the truth.

Many cottages were damp and badly in need of repair. Gardens were small and housed the outside toilet (a hole in the ground) which was next to the pig sty and an ever growing dung heap (many people kept a pig). Laundry was hung on the line to dry in all weathers or draped over any available surface. There was little or no space to grow flowers as a year round supply of vegetables was essential for feeding an ever growing family. Roofs leaked, chimneys smoked and vermin ran around inside the cottage.

We bloggers dream of our perfect cottage retreat (with all mod cons of course) and if we aren't lucky enough to live in one then we can give our homes a 'cottagy look'.

I'd love to tell you I lived in the perfect little country dwelling but I'm afraid I don't so I create little 'cottagy corners'. Our house has thick stone walls and leaded windows which helps with the illusion. My grandma's old chair dates back to the mid 1800s and is a nice place to sit with an early morning cuppa.

I love Victorian oil lamps and candlesticks. This glass lamp belonged to my husband's great grandfather. The chamberstick (a cottage essential) was bought from Ebay.

My old pine dresser is filled with a mish-mash of china, some vintage, some new. The cottage shaped teapot, sugar and cream were my mum's.The dresser has glass doors which I could remove but don't because I hate dusting!!

Here is another corner of 'treasures'. The oak table is early Victorian, the oil lamp is my grandma's and the ink well my great grandma's (she was an avid letter writer). The china Staffordshire figure was bought from an antiques sale (I love Staffordshire figures) and the tea cup and plate are vintage C1936. I hope you'll stay for a cup of tea and a slice of delicious fruit cake (the cake isn't vintage by the way, it was freshly made yesterday).

Until next time