Friday 21 December 2012

Time to decorate

Greetings friends on this December solstice day, a time when I traditionally decorate our house for Christmas. Early this morning I went to the attic and found the familiar boxes that contain our much loved decorations and very quickly numerous helpers appeared all eager to lend a hand with box emptying. I wonder if they will be nearby when I need help to pack things away!

Quickly I found the box containing our lovely glass baubles. These are much too precious for enthusiastic helpers to unpack. 
Finding a pair of golden bells, Lucy Lavender wasted no time in using them as earrings. The robin looks less than impressed wouldn't you say?
I made this snowman many years ago and now it wouldn't be Christmas if he didn't put in an appearance. His head lifts off and his body is hollow (made from a large glass jar). When the children were little I used to fill him with tiny inexpensive toys (one a day for the twelve days of Christmas).
Now what secrets does Santa Mouse have in his sack I wonder?
Oh dear! A spot of trouble in the tree. . . . .
The foolish bunny children decided to try climbing into the branches. What they hadn't bargained for was the spiky needles that stuck into their clothing and held them fast. Ouch!

I carefully unhooked each foolish bunny and then told them to be on their best behaviour while they had a chat with Santa on his sleigh. He only brings gifts to good little bunnies so I just hope he hasn't seen their many antics throughout the year.
Our Christmas decorations have been in use for many years and I rarely add to the collection but this year I couldn't resist giving a home to this cute little glass elf.

Wherever you are in this great wide world of ours I should like to
wish you a Very Happy Christmas.

Monday 3 December 2012

Jolly chaos

After several weeks of grey skies and rain I felt I needed to put some extra colour into my life. So I spent last week in the sewing room and made a few little smiling cuties like this.

I ended up making four and once I've added lining and handles they'll become little tote bags.

I also made three cheery bunny pencil cases. A small bunny can be seen peeking round the door with a cup cake (from the pantry) or a ball (from the toy shop). Mother bunny as might be expected is looking far from pleased!

This needle book has a stiff card interlining so that it'll be easy to flip open. Quick and fun to make I think I'll do some more of these.

Before I'd had time to fill the house with needles some mousy visitors took up residence.
These scamps belong to my daughter who is currently in the process of moving house. Things are chaotic with her at the moment as she has urgent arrangements to make and lots of packing to do so I suggested she let me look after the rascals from her Toyshelf shop until she is settled in her new home.
The visitors, living in the playroom with my family of knitted scamps, behaved well at first.
However, over the weekend things got a bit chaotic when my two mischievous bunny boys escaped from the playroom with a number of the Toyshelf visitors and they all found their way into my sewing room. The result was a jumble of rascals having enormous fun with the newly made pencil cases and little house.
Luckily help was on hand. Two of my 'sensible' dollies (Kate and Tilly) were quick to spot the rascally runaways and wasted no time in gathering them up and depositing them in a basket.

All are now safely back in the playroom with the door firmly closed. If you're a knitter you'll probably recognise these scamps, if not you can find them here.

Monday 19 November 2012

New Patterns

Greetings friends. What an unproductive autumn it has been here at Flutterby Patch. Back in mid September I started writing a new knitting pattern and planned to complete it as quickly as possible so that knitters could create some 'cuties' for Christmas. But then disaster struck. I foolishly slipped on a concrete step and fractured my wrist. Ouch!! I returned from hospital with my wrist in a large splint and I've been sitting around waiting for it to heal. I'm right-handed and, of course, that was the side where the damage occurred. Needless to say I've been unable to knit for several weeks and only used the computer when absolutely necessary as typing and doing everything with my left hand was a nightmare.
But here I am nine weeks later; almost back to full speed with just a few residual aches and pains. Yesterday I managed to finish the pattern and have even produced a second to compliment it. See what you think. You'll find find both new patterns in my Etsy shop.
The dolls living in the playroom were delighted to greet Jenny and her tiny sister who we immediately named 'Jolly Cute' because that is what she is.
It wasn't long before Jolly Cute's friends started to appear and Jenny now has the job of looking after them all.
All the tiny dolls have Jolly names. From the left they are Jolly Pink, Jolly Flowery, Jolly Cute, Jolly Cold, Jolly Sweet and Jolly Dotty. The fairy is Jolly Magic.
As the little dolls needed somewhere warm and cosy to live I knitted three small bags and put Jolly Dolly faces on the front of each

As you can see the tiny dollies fitted perfectly and I'm guessing little girls everywhere would love to receive a bag containing some jolly friends for Christmas.

You'll find the two new patterns in my Etsy shop. 'Jenny and the Jolly Dollies' pattern has knitting instructions for Jenny and the seven tiny dolls and  'Jolly Dolly Bags' contains the pattern for all three bags with dolly faces. You can save $2 by purchasing both patterns together in my special '2 Pattern Deal'. UK buyers might want to visit my UK shop where all my patterns are listed in GB pounds sterling.

I knew everyone would be expecting a new pattern or two before Christmas so I really hope I'm not too late and you have fun using them. As I've been out of action for so long I now have lots of jobs to catch up on around the house.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Busy days

September, and a new school year is just beginning. Of course it's many years since I was in the classroom but there's something about the golden glow of shortening September days that gives me a renewed energy and a need to start something new. . . . . So this year I decided we'd decorate our bedroom as it's needed some TLC for quite a while.

The first job was to empty everything from the bedroom shelves. Pieces of china were washed and then put into places of safety until the decorating work is over. The Brambly Hedge looks rather nice on the downstairs dresser so I might leave it there for a while.
Other precious pieces, like this dolls Victorian tea set, have been placed into my glass cabinet along with a few other treasures.
Next the curtains came down and after washing they looked as good as new. I'm happy about this as I've always liked them but I suppose it would have been nice to have an excuse to buy new ones so if they'd emerged from the machine in a dilapidated state I wouldn't have minded too much!
Hubby and I have always shared decorating jobs. Thankfully he's happy to strip off old wallpaper (which I hate doing) and paint ceilings and walls. I do all the remaining paintwork and then hang new wallpaper. Whilst he was taking off the old paper I was able to spent time considering new colour options.

Previously I'd hung wallpaper on all four walls but this time I plan to do just one feature wall behind the bed and then get hubby to paint the remaining walls. We used this jade white in the cloakroom recently and it matches the stripes on the bedroom curtains perfectly so it might be the right choice. I've painted a small patch on the wall so that I can make a decision.

With a few days of much needed sunshine the bedroom windows have been wide open and yesterday this pretty little butterfly flew in for a look around. It wasn't one I was familiar with so before setting it free I took a picture for identification purposes.
Out with my trusty 'Reader's Digest Guide to British Butterflies' and I was soon able to identify the 'Speckled Wood'. Looking at the map of Britain on the page it was obviously not found anywhere near our area when the book was published several years ago but during the intervening years has presumably colonised further north. I suppose the experts would say the butterflies' gradual move north is due to 'climate change' (it's the usual reason given). Anyway, the Speckled Wood butterfly is very welcome in our garden so I'm not complaining!
If you are hoping for a new knitting pattern to appear in my Dollytime shop soon then you'll be happy to hear I'm finding a bit of time to knit during the cooler September evenings. I'm never 100% certain that items will be good enough for patterns until they are complete so I won't give you any clues about what I'm making until I've finished. I must admit it doesn't look very exciting at the moment does it, but hopefully the result will be quick and easy to make and a useful 'stash buster' (dolly related of course!)
Thinking of dollies! I made another item from my Liberty Lawn at the end of last week. A zipped pencil case with another little 'Jolly Dolly' on the front.

With the start of the new school term fast approaching I asked Lucy Lavender and Kate to sharpen some pencils and pop them into the new pencil case.

Everything was going well until . . . . . . . . a head with long ears suddenly popped out and surprised them both. One of the rascally bunny boys had obviously fancied setting up home for a while in the pencil case. Usually this could have resulted in playroom antics and eventual chaos but not this time. . . . . .

 . . . . . . the little fellow behaved like a very sensible bunny and, without any prompting from the girls, began passing pencils when they were required.

I can't believe this much improved bunny behaviour will continue for very long but for now all is peace and tranquillity in the playroom!

Monday 27 August 2012

Jolly Dolly needle cases

Three weeks ago I showed you pieces of my Liberty Tana Lawn and said I hoped to put some of it to good use. After an enforced break due to the cold that laid me low for a while, I can at last show you what I've been making.

With so many pretty florals it was difficult to make definite choices but eventually I decided to do some little patchwork needle cases. I needed some smiling dollies to give me inspiration so started by creating three tiny 'jolly dollies' using machine embroidery. Of course each one wears her own Liberty Lawn dress.

As always, mixing and matching pretty fabrics is great fun but can be time consuming. Each little needle case required eighteen 5cm (2ins) patches so the selection and cutting process took quite a while as I wanted to use as many different patterns as possible. Finally I stitched the squares together making sure each 'jolly dolly' sat centre stage. 
I cut a larger piece of Liberty Lawn for the inside and stitched it to the patchwork cover (not forgetting to include some interfacing for added bulk, softness and stability). Finally I added four leaves of cotton flannelette to hold the needles and trimmed each needle case with a tiny bow. 

The famous Liberty shop opened in London in 1875. A large Mock Tudor extension was added in the 1920s and at the same time Liberty Tana Lawn was introduced. The tiny floral prints became an instant success and several of the original designs are still in production today.

I discovered that the word 'Tana' in the name owes it's origin to the soft raw cotton that was found growing beside Lake Tana in Ethiopia, Africa. . . . . I love those sorts of facts don't you!

Monday 20 August 2012

Lakeland sunshine

Mid August in the English Lake District and this year rain clouds have never been far away. But today we had sunny blue skies which gave us the chance to enjoy the great outdoors.

This is Ullswater, one of our quieter lakes. Birdsong and water lapping against the shingle shoreline were the only sounds I could hear.

Our mountains are clothed in purple heather just now and it clings to every available rock and crevice.

Close to the lake, and nestled below towering mountains, is the Church of St. Patrick in the village of Patterdale.

In summer the grass in the old churchyard becomes a wild flower meadow. 

A perfect illustration of 'God's Acre'.

The church doors are often left open during the day allowing visitors to enter for a few moments of quiet prayer and reflection.

Leaving the sunshine behind I stepped into the porch, turned the heavy iron ring on the old oak door and entered the cool interior.

The sun streamed in through the stained glass windows.

Stories from the Bible illuminated in jewel-coloured glass .

The church houses some lovely tapestries created in the 1930s by artist and craftswoman Ann Macbeth who lived nearby.

Here is her depiction of The Nativity which she set in a Lakeland landscape with familiar wild flowers in the foreground.

Looking at the local cottages I wondered if Ann Macbeth had lived in any of them.

In fact she commissioned a house and studio to be built in the 1930s well away from habitation. Her small white cottage is just visible in the centre of this picture.

She probably felt quite isolated during the winter months when thick snow lay on the ground but on a sunny summer's day like today, what an idyllic place it would have been to live and work.

Friday 17 August 2012

Snuffles and comfort

Merrily Ann (our Raggedy Ann style dolly) has been unwell this week. She and several others (myself included) have succumbed to a nasty cold virus that is proving very difficult to shake off. Luckily 'snufflers' have had cosy beds in which to suffer in comfort with plenty of fruit juice and tissues close-by.


Playroom patients have had plenty of help on hand and games of 'pass-the-tissue' have proved extremely popular. This is the dolls' version of an Olympic relay race, minus the baton of course.

Needless to say, tissues have been in constant demand
and so have been much more useful than a baton.

Last week you saw Merrily Ann's large wooden bed being used to ferry everyone back from the garden to the playroom (many thanks for your comments by the way). It's a very sturdy little bed that has been in the playroom since my kids were young and the dolls never miss a chance to climb into it at the first available opportunity. This week it has been the turn of the hard worked 'tissue relay team' who have loved snuggling down under the quilt to keep Merrily Ann company.

Annoyingly our snuffles have coincided with some of the best weather we've had all summer but the enthusiasm to go outside and have fun has been absent.
I've spent much of my time looking through books and came across this picture of Edwardian families enjoying a holiday beside the sea. 100 years ago people wore smart clothes for a day on the beach and a hat for protection from the sun (a sun tan was considered very undesirable). If you wanted to take a dip in the sea you would have hired a 'bathing machine' (a little wooden caravan on wheels). Inside you would have put on your 'cover all parts' bathing costume then the machine would have been pushed into the water and you would have descended the steps to take your 'dip' with etiquette and modesty. How times have changed!

Many people would have travelled to the coast by train but wealthy families might have owned one of the early motor cars and journeyed in a new and exciting way. This picture makes you realise how fraught with danger early car rides would have been. Travel times were slow and after the first few miles children must have been restless and bored. Just look at that rascal in the front next to the driver. He seems to be holding a whip which I expect he is using to make the car go faster! I wonder how many travelling dolls and teddy bears fell out during these lengthy journeys?

How different our 21st century car travel is.  Children are secured safely in the back and their toys can join them and be confident that they will return home safely with their young owners.
An advertisement for the Seat Altea car (shown on Britsh TV a couple of years ago) is one my all time favourite ads. I wonder if it was shown in other countries around the world. It reminds me of my kids when they were young as they always insisted on taking dozens of toys on any trip. The advert starts with a teddy bear packing his loose arm into a suitcase then everyone leaves the playroom and heads for the car. To view the advert click on the link below. I hope it makes you smile . . . .