Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Flower filled days

Don't you just love these colours!

This illustration is by Brian Wildsmith and it accompanies the poem 'The Flowers' in his fabulous version of 'A Child's Garden of Verses' published in 1966. Brian Wildsmith is now in his 80s and has illustrated many books over the years.

Hilda Boswell's lovely books include 'A Child's Garden of Verses' which like Brian Wildsmith's also dates from the 1960s. Her style is typical of that era whilst his illustrations seem way ahead of their time.

Hilda Boswell (1903 - 1976)

Children in the Victorian and Edwardian era would have been treated to Charles Robinson's version of the book which contained over 100 wonderfully detailed black and white illustrations in the Art Nouveau style. It was first published in 1895

Charles Robinson (1870 - 1937)

In 1946 Alice Watson illustrated the book. One of her delicate line drawings accompanies every poem. This is her version of 'The Flowers'

A.H. Watson (Alice Watson 1896 - 1984)

I have a copy of Gyo Fujikawa's 'Child's Garden of Verses' which she illustrated in the 1950s. Sadly the poem in question hasn't been included but as I'm a great fan of this lady's work I decided to include her flower filled cover picture.

Gyo Fujikawa (1908 - 1998)

Last but not least is Tasha Tudor's wonderful interpretation. She first illustrated 'A Child's Garden of Verses' in 1947 but my book is a newer version dating from the early 1980s. I love it.

Tasha Tudor (1915 - 2008)

Robert Louis Stevenson's poems have always been a favourite of mine and I'm afraid I can never resist buying yet another vintage version of his book when I find one.

I've enjoyed several 'garden days' this week as the weather has been amazingly kind. Here are four views of my 'patch' captured yesterday.

Below is a small part of the 'cutting garden' that I planted last year.

I'm really pleased with the way it has matured. Every available space is filled with colour.

Having a cutting garden is a great way to have cut flowers for the house without spoiling the main flower beds. I wish I'd thought of it years ago.

Thanks for dropping in.
Until next time

Monday, 25 July 2011

Flying high (and trying)

We've just enjoyed a gloriously sunny weekend. The garden hummed with the sound of bees whilst butterflies fluttered prettily from flower to flower seeking sun warmed nectar. After several attempts I managed to snap this picture of a Small Tortoiseshell.

The weekend was not a haven of peace however as the summery sound of bees was frequently interrupted by the roar of jet aircraft swooping and diving overhead. Every July the Lake District stages an airshow and this year's was bigger than ever. The planes always perform their aerobatics over the lake so we are able to view them from the garden or through an upstairs window.

This enormous delta wing Vulcan rattled the rafters as it climbed high above the house.

Late on Sunday afternoon the 'Red Arrows' (the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team) performed their amazing display as a finale to this year's show and then at last the summery buzzing of bees was again audible.

The aerobatics we witnessed over the weekend seem to have influenced activities in the playroom today. This afternoon I found Tilly and Kate looking at pictures of flying fairies.

Then out came some coloured paper and wings were made for all the Rainbow Rascals.

Although the names - Lysimachia Fairy, Hydrangea Fairy, Red Petunia Fairy and Mauve Petunia Fairy are too long for the average dolly to remember the girls were happy to pose with their flowery namesakes.

So far so good. But then the flying idea was put to the test and the fairy aerobatic team prepared to take to the skies. . . . . .and landed with a thud on the ground below.

Until next time

Friday, 22 July 2011

Dolly blanket

A busy week of birthdays and dolly blanket making.
Back in a few days.

Have a good weekend

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Daisy chains and a doll's apron

Does anyone remember this curtain fabric that was popular in 1970s Britain?

The name of the design was 'Daisy Chain' and it was available from John Lewis stores. As you can see there were several gorgeous colourways available. My mum could never resist buying pretty fabric and acquired quite a bit of Daisy Chain, not for making curtains but to turn into aprons which she sold to raise money for various charities. The aprons, which were made in all sizes, were very popular.



A few years ago I inherited the contents of my mum's sewing room and still have a few remnants of Daisy Chain in my stash. It always brings back fond memories of my mum and the many shopping trips we made together to choose fabric.

In the playroom today Posy was busy at the sewing machine and guess what she was making . . . a little Daisy Chain apron.

The apron was soon finished and the purple and pink combination toned perfectly with her knitted outfit.

On seeing Posy's handiwork four other dolls decided an apron was an absolute 'must have' for them also and enthusiastically began choosing and trying the various colours available. After much thought Posy agreed that if she made aprons for the other dolls they would no longer have an excuse not to wash the dishes . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . Posy showed the four friends the large stack of dirty crockery and pans waiting to be washed. On seeing the stack it was quickly agreed that perhaps aprons weren't such a good idea after all.

Everything went very quiet in the playroom after that and so Posy neatly folded the Daisy Chain fabric and put it away. Somehow though, I don't think she's heard the last of the apron making idea.

If you'd like to knit any of the dollies that you see in my blog posts you will find patterns for them in my Dollytime Etsy shop.

Meanwhile, to make an apron for your own doll or teddy simply follow Posy's easy pattern below. The apron is designed to fit toys 33cm - 38cm (13in -15in). If you cut out a paper pattern you can check it for size against the toy in question. It is very easy to make the pattern longer, shorter, wider or narrower. You will require a piece of fabric no less than 15cm (6in) x 18cm (7in) and approximately 1m (just over a yard) of tape for the ties.

Cut the fabric on the solid black line as a single turn of 6mm (0.25in) has been allowed. Use your sewing machine to neaten the edges with zig-zag stitch before turning them under, or use 'Fray Stop'. Alternatively you can bind the edges with bias binding. If you decide to do this then don't forget to make the apron a bit smaller all round as you won't need to turn the edges under.

The cutting line from the waist to the top of the bib can be straight (cut on the solid line) or curved (cut on the broken line). Posy cut her apron on the curved line.

1). Fold and stitch the sides.
2). Fold and stitch from waist to top of bib (straight or curved).
3). Fold and stitch the bib top
4). Hold the apron against the toy and adjust the hem if necessary and then stitch.

5). Stitch tape to the apron. Each piece will be approx 25cm (10in) but toys' necks and waistlines vary so check before cutting the tape.

When finished, enjoy a nice cup of tea!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Doily day

My Granny loved to crochet doilies and I'm sure she'd be pleased to know that I still use several of her pretty creations around the house. Every so often I gather them together for washing.

Today was a 'gathering doily for washing day'. But before I had chance to wash them some little rascals from the playroom decided doilies would make excellent veils for brides and so began a game of 'let's pretend to be brides' .

Two brides collected flowers for wedding bouquets . . . . .

. . . . . and then everyone posed for a group photo.

Fun over. . . It was time to get those doilies clean.

One of the brides fetched the soap.

and two more brides laundered the doilies and hung them on the line to dry

The group of vintage doilies below (one large and two small) are sometimes referred to as a 'Duchess set'. Last July I wrote a post about doilies and asked if anyone knew why they had been given this name as I'd never been able to find a reason for it. Sadly no one came up with the answer.

Then amazingly, Karen from Queensland in Australia visited my blog last week. Whilst reading posts from 2010 she noticed my question about Duchess sets and was good enough to leave a comment. She said she sometimes hears of a dressing table being referred to as a Duchess. This prompted me to do a Google search for Duchess dressing table and guess what? . . . I found loads of Victorian and Edwardian dressing tables in the style shown below and the name they all had was 'Duchess'. Three doilies (one large and two small) would fit perfectly and so I have to conclude that this style of dressing table must be the reason for the name. My thanks go to Karen for taking the time to leave a comment and answer my question.

By the 1940s the style of dressing tables had changed (see below) but three doilies were still essential. The name 'Duchess set' was still used but more often the doilies were know as a 'cheval set' due to the long cheval mirror in the centre.

If, like me, you have a passion for knitting, sewing, dolls and doilies then I think you'd enjoy visiting Smilerynker. This is a wonderfully colourful Danish blog with beautiful dolls, some clever ideas for the use of doilies and lots of family fun.

I hope the sun is shining for you in your part of the world. If so then maybe you also have some little helpers who will enjoy assisting you with the laundry!!

Until next time

Friday, 1 July 2011

Garden ghosts

Imagine you are a wealthy Edwardian lady with a beautiful house and garden like the one above. Isn't it gorgeous. You would, of course, have a gardener who would keep the lawns manicured and pick fresh flowers to fill your pretty house with scent and colour.

Then one day the gardener complains that large leathery leaves have mysteriously appeared in his carefully tended flower borders. He cannot identify them as there are no blooms. You decide to leave them growing just in case something beautiful or unusual appears.

The following spring several buds emerge and within a few short weeks these spiky beauties appear. They are 'eryngium gigantium' (sea holly).

In Victorian and Edwardian times, if these plants mysteriously appeared in your flower borders the chances were you had been visited by a well known plant enthusiast named Ellen Willmott. She would regularly taunt her friends by scattering seed of eryngium gigantium in their gardens and must have carried seed with her wherever she went.

Ellen Willmott

The flowers are tiny and are clustered on the central cone. They are surrounded by wonderful grey/white bracts that shine like silver in the summer sun and on a moonlit night they appear a ghostly white. Friends of Ellen Willmott eventually became used to these plants popping up uninvited in their gardens and they became know as Miss Willmott's Ghost.

I heard this story a few years ago and couldn't resist buying a packet of eryngium gigantium seeds to scatter in the garden. Nothing appeared so I forgot about them. Last year some strange leaves emerged which I thought were probably weeds. Then suddenly, in the last few weeks Miss Wilmott's Ghost has put in an appearance.......magic!

Elsewhere in the garden Posy has been hard at work. She is the only dolly whose legs are long enough to reach the pedals on this old bicycle and so she volunteered to pull the trailer loaded with pots and garden tools (plus a few helpers).

Meanwhile, Polly and Kate have been in the orchard gathering cherries. Every time they count them there are less cherries in the basket. I'm not sure how many will remain by teatime!

I'd better get back to the garden whilst the sun continues to shine. Enjoy your weekend.