Monday 23 January 2012

All good fun

I thought I'd show you the curtains I've just finished making for our cloakroom. As I always seem to end up choosing flowery fabric I was determined this time to have something different, checks or stripes perhaps.

As you can see, I fell into the 'flowery trap' yet again. These delicious roses on a pale aqua background stole my heart as soon as I saw them. I have a few bits of vintage china on the cloakroom windowsill which are a perfect match so there was no contest. Perhaps I'll choose checks or stripes next time!

Our weather has been wet and windy for weeks but there has been plenty to keep us busy. Whilst I've been decorating and making curtains the playroom has been its usual buzz of activity. There are a number of Mabel Lucie Attwell books on the playroom shelves and the pictures are a constant source of inspiration to everyone, including me!

Don't you just love this illustration. It comes from an early Attwell book, written in 1920, about a little baby that goes missing.

As the sun goes down and the moon rises some little elves discover the baby asleep under a tree. But how do tiny fairy folk transport a chubby baby safely back home?

Luckily these quick thinking little characters have the answer. They bundle the baby into an old linen basket and with great effort pull the cutie back home.

This tale is a great favourite in the playroom not least because it gives some of the dolls the perfect excuse to have a game of 'let's rescue the baby'. The Rainbow Rascals love to wrap Daisy in a clean handkerchief, bundle her into the old linen basket and drag her across the playroom floor.

Of course this game doesn't last long and usually leads to more boisterous adventures, especially when inspired by this picture.

If one baby will fit into a small basket then how many dolls will fit into an even bigger basket? Let's find out!

Isn't it funny how empty containers act as a magnet for youngsters and can inspire the most creative play. Children will never be bored when there are empty baskets and boxes nearby.

Before I go I'd like to thank everyone for the very generous comments left with my last post. Many of you popped over to Toyshelf to see what patterns were available.

Recent arrivals are these little sailors,

It was with a sigh of relief I finally completed decorating the three rooms I started last October, and with the new curtains in place I am at last able to give my mind to creating a new knitting pattern. As always I have plenty of ideas buzzing around in my head and have already started on one particular dolly idea. It's a bit experimental and might be a hopeless failure, in which case you'll not hear any more about it. However, I'm hoping it will turn out well so I'll keep you posted.

Until next time

Sunday 15 January 2012

Playroom visitors

There was an unusual amount of activity in the playroom this morning. I could hear chairs being dragged across the floor, books being pulled from the bookcase and much whispering going on. When I opened the playroom door I was met by a dolly barricade.

Little faces peeked out at me from behind books and cushions and it was soon plain to see that this wasn't just a game, so I went in to investigate.

Luckily it didn't take long to discover the problem.

During the night four little monsters had made their way into the playroom and were now happily playing with the balls of wool in the dollies' knitting basket.

Luckily Kate and Tilly were not far away and being experts at catching stray fairies they wasted no time in scooping up these little rascals.

Kate netted the first little fellow and Tilly grabbed the second and soon all four were in safe hands.

The girls wasted no time in offering the visitors a cup of tea and I think they quite enjoyed it, although it's hard to tell from the expressions on their faces.

These little monsters won't be permanent residents in the playroom as they belong to my daughter and will soon be going home. She opened an Etsy shop last year selling her own knitting patterns and these little fellows are her latest designs. We both love toys and spend hours discussing our latest plans. Whilst I tend to design traditional dolls my daughter likes to experiment with new ideas.

This is Cupcake the kitten confronting two cheeky mice who are obviously very determined to guard their precious tin of salmon. You will find the patterns in her shop.

The shop listing below is my favourite . . . . 'Puppy Love'.

My daughter's shop is called Toyshelf, a name which I think suits it well as it conjures up an image of a shelf filled with an ever growing number of cute, cuddly and colourful toys. Do pop over and take a look if you enjoy making small toys.

Monday 2 January 2012

The Wind in the Willows

'The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home'.

This is the well known opening line from Kenneth Grahame's 'The Wind in the Willows'. First published in 1908 it is now a much loved children's classic. In my last blog post I promised to tell you more about the book that is wonderfully illustrated by Inga Moore.

The book begins with the Mole painting his ceiling. After a while he grows tired and throws down his brush. There is a hint of spring in the air so he scrambles up his dark tunnel and out into the fresh spring air. Without further thought the Mole heads off into the countryside. Eventually he reaches a meandering river and beside it sits a snug little dwelling-place.

This is the home of the Water Rat and the two animals quickly become friends and enjoy a happy summer together fishing and having adventures up and down the riverbank. One of their acquaintances is Mr Toad (we'll see more of him later!)

As days grow shorter and winter approaches the Mole grows restless and foolishly ventures alone into the Wild Wood. His mission is to find the home of the much respected but elusive Mr Badger. But he soon becomes lost and very frightened and is eventually rescued by his friend the Rat.

The two head for home but the snow falls thicker and faster and it is soon evident that they have lost their way. Suddenly the Mole stumbles on an object that is protruding from the snow. It is a door scraper and of course where there's a door scraper there must be door. So the two exhausted animals start to scrape away the snow and soon find a bell-pull.

After ringing the bell they wait patiently and eventually hear distant footsteps from inside. The door slowly opens and there stands Mr Badger.

He invites them inside, bathes the cut on the Mole's leg, gives them a hearty meal and then gives them both a cosy bed for the night.

The following morning the friends find two hungry hedgehogs sitting at the table eating bowls of porridge given to them by the kindly Badger.

With Christmas approaching it is time to return to the Riverbank. They pass through snowy villages and cross freezing fields.

On the way the Mole calls at his old home and although a humble dwelling they spend some time there and enjoy Christmas carol singing in the company of little field mice.

The story starts quite gently but then it continues apace with lots of adventures for the Riverbank folk. Mr Toad is the centre of everyone's attention.

He steals a car, drives it recklessly and is caught by the police. To escape from prison he dresses as a washer-woman and is again pursued by the police. And so the Toad's adventures continue.

Whilst the foolish animal has been away his grand house 'Toad Hall' has been taken over by weasels, stoats and ferrets from the Wild Wood.

It is thought the Toad might have lost his house for ever but with Mr Badger's expert knowledge of underground tunnels the four friends are able to enter the house undetected and they pounce upon the unsuspecting weasels who are holding a party.

The mighty Badger with whiskers bristling waves his great cudgel and rushes towards the ferrets at the dining table. With noisy whoops and shrieks the Rat, the Mole and Mr Toad join the attack and the terrified ferrets make their escape. In five minutes the room is cleared and through the broken window panes the shrieks of the escaping intruders can be clearly heard.

At long last the friends can dine with the now (hopefully) reformed Mr Toad, who is happy to be back in his much loved ancestral home.

If you are familiar with 'The Wind in the Willows' you will know that I have only covered a small part of this much loved story. My main aim of this post was was to show you some of Inga Moore's superbly evocative illustrations.

This is a large book measuring 29cm x 21cm. In full colour throughout there are almost 100 illustrations on the 182 pages. It is essentially a book for children but will appeal to all ages. I should point out that the original text by Grahame has been abridged in places to allow for the many illustrations.

A children's classic beautifully illustrated by Inga Moore.