Tuesday 31 March 2009

Corsage joy

Last night I started and finished this pretty little corsage - its adorned with a lovely blue heart shaped ceramic button and I was rather pleased with it I must say - I was in two minds whether to actually put it on my Etsy or keep it for myself, but as the dear other half pointed out, if I kept everything I made, Id be flooded with stuff...he's right, I have a drawer overflowing with such things so with some reluctance, but sure that one day it would meet with a joyously happy owner, I added it to my little shop.

I also managed to do a bit more crochet work to add to my blanket stash, and realised that the pale blue wool I had chosen to edge my blocks with was running dangerously low. Alas, the only thing for it was a trip to Holmfirth to the excellent Up Country

If ever you have the chance to visit this little aladdins cave of treasures and all things woolly, then do go along for a peep - once inside you disappear up some stairs and you are in wool heaven! There are delightful cupboards oozing wools of all shades and textures, drawers have yarn tucked away in them and there are lots of lovely makes like Rowan and Debbie Bliss - the owner (I presume) has also very thoughtfully left some childrens toys on the floor in a corner, so that mummy can browse in peace whilst the little ones amuse themselves with small cars, a house and a plastic snoopy.


I came away with stocks replenished (isn't it awful when you run out half way through something?) and after a spot of grocery shopping we came home for lunch.

A lovely, pootling sort of day - and tonight a meeting with my Craft Candy friends!

Hope you are all having a scrumptious day

Sending love and cosy blankets - its still very chilly here, is it the same where you are?

Julia xxx

Monday 30 March 2009

Busy Busy but so much FUN!

I've had the lovliest weekend - pottering and pootling about - visiting places, spring time projects with the little one, helping at the first annual Craft Candy spring fair...let me start at the beginning, which was friday evening and I decided on a whim to make myself a long yearned for pin cushion! A tiny scrap of lovely vintage fabric, pretty cotton ribbon and a shiny shell button and hurrah! Pin cushion lovliness all ready to be covered in the silvery things!

On saturday afternoon I helped out at the Craft Candy first annual Spring Fling event. I am lucky enough to belong to this wonderful group but as I wasn't having a stall this time, I didnt want to miss out on any of the action (or lovely things for sale) so spent a rather delicious afternoon down at the Workstation in Sheffield city centre. It was a grand turnout and I didnt come away empty handed either...I had spied these precious beauties on Yvonnes gorgeous folksy shop and vowed to myself if they were on her table at the fair, they would be birthday money well spent and coming home with me.

Well, as you can see I was very, very lucky to find them on her table and I swiftly took them off her hands! You can find more of her lovely things here, at Mymiyel.com, she's a very talented lady :)

It was hard work not spending alot of money at all the lovely stalls, there was so much talent there and too much temptation, but I really couldnt resist this little purse for my daughter to keep her pennies in and this unusual and very unique owl hanging (which has found its way into my kitchen and looks quite at home hanging from one of the cupboard door knobs!). These were made by Lucia, of Betty Joy and you really ought to go see her stuff, shes brilliant!
The day ended in style, my other half ringing up to say we were off to the pub for a tasty meal! Hurrah again!! A nice meal and a good glass of wine was just the ticket after a splendid afternoon at the fair!

Sunday, was a rather more laid back affair...
I decided we ought to be getting around to the business of planting some seeds...

We are planning to give over some of our flowery garden space to vegetables this year, and so on Sunday morning me and the tot got busy with compost and trays, planting peas, echinacea flowers, sunflowers and plum tomatoes. A great start to things we thought! In the next couple of weeks I am hoping to lay my hands on a little grow house to accomodate more seedlings as the weather turns warmer - we will need the space as we don't have much in the way of sunny windowledges in our little house.

So here they are, trays of dark compost with hidden delights emerging under the soil...fingers crossed!!

Later in the day, we went over to Wentworth village and enjoyed a gentle stroll around the garden centre before walking back down the avenue that leads to the village church, either side of the little path was covered in bright yellow drifts of daffodils that stretched on as far as the eye could see! The little one was delighted to be let loose and it took us at least 40 minutes to walk up the path, acknowledging each daffodil and pup that happened to pass us on the way.

We popped out in the George and Dragon pub garden - a delightful looking place for a summers eve we thought and made a mental note to return when the weather was a tad warmer, even though British Summertime officially began this weekend, the breeze had an arctic chill in it and fingers were in need of the gloves we'd all left back in the house.

Back home, little one bathed and put to bed we finally sat down and I got to relaxing with some therapeutic crochet. Ive blocked three squares and it looks, so far, like this! Im immensley pleased and proud of it, Ive never attempted anything so big before. I worked out that I need 40 of these blocks if Im making it as big as I want it...but theres no hurry to finish it!
So that was that!! And today, I did my first workshop at the Sheffield Childrens Hospital. I had a really lovely time there, and the children that I spent time with making Easter pictures were an absolute delight. Im looking forward to going back again soon.

Hope you all had lovely weekends, sending love, sunny corners, chamomile tea and a comfy chair to you...oh and a good book - enjoy your week, see you soon!

Love J xxx

Thursday 26 March 2009


How exciting!! I was given an award today by Suzy's Vintage Attic! Big happy smiles :D
And more smily moments followed when I saw the faces of these gorgeous violas beaming up at me - we have had a few days of people being unwell in our house (including me) ~ all sorts of tummy upset and runny nose things going on so it was uplifting to see these on my little meander around the garden this morning after being cooped up indoors for the last 2 days.

I wandered down by the river at the bottom of our little garden and along the scruffy path that runs along the side of the river and discovered that the daffodils there are now blooming beautifully! Their big yellow heads are a lovely contrast against the dark peaty water and rich green stems! Oh I love spring time! I feel so much better for all this flowery lovliness! You may notice that the picture is a little skewed (that tree doesn't really grow on such a strange angle)...well so was I as I leant precariously off the bank side to try and get the flowers in shot! The lengths I go to for a photograph!! :)

Another thing also happened to cheer me up, and that was the arrival of some new wool which is to be added to the stash for summer garden blanket squares...Im on 22 now, only a hundred or so to go I think, but I do love the quiet methodical nature of crochet, I enjoy how it relaxes and makes everything alright again, its a soothing thing for me.

Its all lovely and quiet here now, the other half is back at work after a day in bed, and little one sleeps peacefully upstairs...I can feel another cuppa coming on, and my fingers are itching to put those new wool shades to work!

See you soon!
Sending you tiny posies and peaceful moments today
J x

Wednesday 25 March 2009


...I wonder if I'll ever get fixed on creating in just one theme.
...I wonder if i'll always be an artist who paints and creates in diverse ways, with many different types of materials.
...I wonder if it matters - because it doesn't really I suppose, yet its something that has bothered me at times, about being known for a certain style, a certain theme of painting.

Maybe its not in my bones to be one of those artists who sticks to one medium and paints the same thing over and over, although I do admire people who do this as their work is instantly recognisable and they get a trusted following.

Maybe its in my nature to be random, to follow the calling to create what feels right at the time...be it illustrative, scenic or whatever - like right now, Im enjoying making little ACEO's in watercolour and ink, but at the same time Im itching to get back to my oil pastels, and play with the buttery goodness, blending it into the canvas board with my fingers, such a tactile and lovely way to make art.

Maybe I think too much and should just give up and go with the flow?

Off to get some chocolate biscuits and a nice mug of tea.

J x

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Tiny Art

Wasn't I lucky to have these pretty anenomes and daffodils in bloom on my windowledge over my birthday weekend? I had to share them with you :)
A tiny pot of springtime goodness bloomed on the back step by the little soapstone frog...there are signs of the new season everywhere right now, its so lovely to see it!
Anyway, back to todays pursuits!

This morning, the tiny one and myself got down to the serious business of making flapjack - its a very necessary staple in our home, and I also went on to make a tasty (or at least I hope it will be as its a new recipie) spinach, potato and goats cheese tart for our tea later today! Busy, busy is the word today folks! When little one went up for her nap, I got busy again, this time with pastels and paints. I created these little ACEO's (which stands for Art Card Edition & Originals) - so much fun to do and now available in my Etsy shop! Hurrah!!

'Just Hanging Out'

'Nose to the Breeze'

'Lets Go'

As well as these little paintings, which I did using watercolour and ink on acid free watercolour paper, I spent some time adding to my latest picture 'Can we come too' which was initially started as a submission piece for the art show....and which yesterday I spent debating whether to continue with, in fact I convinced myself so much to begin new work I posted about it here.
However, as the day wore on and I kept passing it, propped up on the side, I felt that perhaps I may have been a bit too hasty in my decision to shove it on one side in favour of totally new stuff.
Such are the whirlings of an artistic gal's mind...
Hmmmmm....so, last night, I decided I'd give it another shot, you see the thing is, with some of my work it gets to a point where Im very involved, and then circumstances arise which makes it nigh on impossible to work on it - this time it was visiting family and exciting trips out and about, and when this happens a kind of apathy sets in (well, with me it does at any rate). Almost 10 days later when I have time to work at it again, I look at it and feel quite detached from it. This may sound strange to say, but the painting had become a stranger, so not much wonder I was seduced by some unknown man's compliments of something Id done before, anything to take me onto something new and perhaps far more interesting than have to get stuck into something half finished.
Its just how I am, Ive always been this way.
So, this afternoon, after drifting off to sleep thinking about it, I added some depth to the acrylic ground work with my buttery oil pastels, and so far it looks like this:

Still alot to do, a long way to go...but despite what I said yesterday, I think I have to give it a chance...don't you?

Call me fickle...but Id love to hear your thoughts! :)
Love J x

Monday 23 March 2009

A change of plan

'Safe Home' ~ A commission piece

Ive not been around this last week as we have had family visiting, so Ive been out on lots of trips to lovely parks, farms, bird reserves etc, and at the weekend it was my birthday (hurrah!!) so there were cakes, shopping trips and a celebration meal at our lovely village pub!

But now, all is quiet. Im pottering around today, and generally musing on something huge.

I am making a big decision to change the work Im entering for the art show, and this is something that has been playing on my mind for the last few days...kind of like an itch that needs scratching. I am starting to acknowledge the comments that I receive about certain pieces of my artwork, and right now I am very aware that some of my art attracts more attention than others.

As those of you who read my blog will probably know, I have spent the last few weeks working on some new art, works which are illustrative and feature my character 'Little Red' and her band of merry animal companions. Im half way through the third one and I was sitting looking at it the other evening with my other half, who happened to mention that he'd given my business card to a chap who he'd met and that he'd heard back from him that he was really taken with my red boat pictures. Now, he's not the only person to pick these out from all the work on my website and its becoming such a thing that I cant ignore the impact that this type of work has on people.

Suffice to say, the original works are now happily living in Brisbane having being sold more or less instantly (and then this was followed up by a commission request for two more, one of which you can see on todays blog post).

I am really enjoying the character work, but I still feel drawn to creating work with ink and watercolour ~ landscapes with my red boat...Im looking at my website and thinking it needs an overhaul, Im looking at the calendar and thinking I need to get things moving as I have to have 3 paintings ready and framed up for May 10th and with a little one to look after this is no easy feat.

So panic sets in.

I wonder if Im ever going to be able to do it, and I talk to B about it and ask him what he would do if he were me - continue with the character work (which is almost finished) or start from scratch with some totally new work. Im concerned now that Im leaping from one thing to another in haste, that Im not thinking it through, that Im too random...or something...

He said; 'What does your heart tell you the right thing is to do?'

I know the answer to that already.

I dont exactly make life easy for myself, but I cant live with the consequences of knowing Ive put work out there that doesnt feel right. Im going to have to really knuckle down and work hard now in the spare moments I can find - my little daylight bulb lamp will be brought out again and the crochet may have to be put on one side for a while, but I know in my bones it will be worth the extra effort.

Flying by the seat of my pants again!!

...and still finalising the workshop Im running at the hospital next monday...

...and Im helping out at the Craft Candy fair on saturday...

No time to waste, catch you all soon!

J x

Saturday 14 March 2009

Works in progress

This is a corner of my submission painting which Im putting forward for the Art Show, its called ~ 'Can we come too?'

I had an Art Day yesterday, a whole 5 hours of painting. When it got to around 3 o'clock, I came away from it for a while, I like to do this to get a sense of its direction, its so easy to lose yourself in your work and then lose track of where it was you were hoping to take it so I make a point of leaving it alone and sit it somewhere I can see it as I pass in and out of the room, this way I can see what needs changing etc.

Im going to have to try very hard this week to paint in the evenings - I have my sister and her family visiting and they are staying with my parents in a nearby village so the next week will be mostly spent with them. At the same time I cant ignore the itchy need to create and complete this painting so I resolve to dig out the daylight lamp and get busy in the evenings - lets hope I can find the energy eh?!! :)

The other big thing Im working on is a summer blanket, I was inspired to follow the pattern on Attic24's blog and Im up to 14 squares. Im loving the colours, Im loving the wool - I dont know how long it will take me to finish it, Im just enjoying the journey of creating something that will be large, colourful..taken on picnics, to the beach...to wrap ourselves up in when we watch a movie...or to just fall asleep under on a rainy sunday afternoon.

A little heirloom blanket, for my little family.

If you like the look of the pattern, you can see how to do it here.

See you soon, have a scrumptious weekend!

Thursday 12 March 2009

Just for the joy of it

I mentioned a day or so ago, that me and the little one had made a yarn basket - well here it is in all its wonky marvellousness!!

We are both very pleased with our first effort, and for some reason the sight of the yarn bowl as it dried clinging to a rotund balloon in a mixing bowl, brought no end of hilarious delight to the child each time she saw it. I must say that the novelty of pva glue sticking to her little hands wore off pretty fast, so it was Mummy who ended up finishing it but nevertheless, it was a joint effort and we thoroughly enjoyed making it. Im considering making a more rounded one for some pretty scarves I have, in shades of blue, purple and aqua.

Later in the afternoon, we both got busy making a lucious lemony drizzle loaf cake. There is something sublime and delightful watching chubby hands grasp a wooden spoon and stir up the ingredients. Watching bright eyes twinkle mischievously as a finger is dipped into the mixture, a large dollop popped into a little mouth followed by a loud "Mmmmmmmmmmmm!"
Something warm and fuzzy happens when you make things with a little one - my girl is not yet 2, but she has a natural curiosity and an earnest need to help. I love my painting time, I love my hours spent crocheting or making bits and bobs of jewellry...but I love, love, LOVE this stuff we do together - watching her learn and grow.
While the cake was baking, she got very excited and kept wanting to look in the oven - we would open the door and peep inside and she would clap her hands in delight and shout 'Cake!'. Little people remind you to see the joy in the ordinary...its priceless.
This was what we made - not much left now though!
I have an Art Day tomorrow which Im really looking forward to, Im going to be working on the first of my submission paintings - did I tell you its called 'Can we come too?'
I'll post pics soon, promise :)
Til next time...

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Simple Pleasures

This weekend we took ourselves to Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. We had foolishly ignored the weather forcast (fierce winds, hail blizzards and freezing cold temperatures) thinking that as normal they'd get it wrong and packed up a bountiful picnic with all hopes of discovering another gorgeous little place.

And it was - gorgeous I mean, inviting little lanes and cobbled entrances leading into secret yards, clusters of cottages with pretty gardens, friendly cats and dogs, shops like the Rustic Rabbit whose window lures you in with its tempting array of goodies so its almost impossible to leave empty handed.

There were little galleries, Emma Bridgewater pottery (heavenly!) and all this would have been the best day out had the little one not decided to be horribly carsick on arrival, and then after a clean up and cuddle operation getting well caught out in the hail storm to beat all hail storms, complete with wicked blasting wind that scratched your face and a cutting icy cold wind that chilled to the bone. We reluctantly retreated to the car, but very firmly decided that when the weather was warmer we would return for walks and another picnic.

So it was time to head home, to more relaxing pursuits...

Being very inspired of late by the fabulous Attic24, I took inspiration from one of Lucy's beautiful projects and decided to crochet my own jam jar vase cover, making a colourful little addition for the kitchen and any pretty flowers that might find their way home in my shopping bag.

I am also beginning a blanket, and Im six squares in already...its addictive and Im afraid the painting has been put on the back burner of late! Wool is the current inspiration and I cannnot ignore the lure of it - today, me and the little one made a yarn basket (I'll post a pic once its dried out) after reading about them on Soulemamas blog some time back. Im also going to invest in her book - The Creative Family after being completely delighted by her words and pictures, check her out!

So, typing with bits of dried pva glue still stuck to my fingers, I am relaxing and loving simplicity today - I love my daffodils in my crocheted vase, I love the little yarn basket drying on the kitchen window sill, I love the fact I have an art day this friday and I love that Im meeting an old friend on thursday whom I havent seen since last summer...I love that the daylight is slowly stretching itself into early evening, I love little purple crocuses, the kingfisher on the river and this lovely tatty little house of ours.

Sending you love today xxx

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Spring Posies

My evenings of late have been spent with my wool stash and crochet hook, creating these little corsages. What started out as an idle way to pass an hour or so (without having to think too much about anything in particular) led to a bit of a minor obsession.
I am to be found making excuses to visit much loved wool emporiums whenever the chance arises, losing myself for several hours in colours and textures that leave me in raptures! I know mere mortals will think I am beyond help, but fellow crafters and crocheters will nod in a deeply understanding manner.

I feel all this might be because March is upon us, and spring is busily springing up all over the garden whch has led to this burst of inspiration, this veritable love affair with crocheted little buds and posies. I am at the moment swooning over Rowan colour charts as I contemplate a blanket...oh yes, Im serious about this!! Anyway, you can find these little bunches of colourful deliciousness currently in my etsy shop!

Its a nice departure from painting, to have a crafting side from which to create as well. This Friday I am hoping to begin a new painting which I will share with you along the way - its one of the paintings Im hoping will be picked for the show, so Im keen to get started with it.

Im also keen for a break, a change of scenery! Its known to do one good isnt it, so Ive decided,I need a trip to the seaside soon, the kind of day trip that involves fish and chips, icecream and walks on gusty beaches...its been too long. Perhaps I shall bring it up in conversation this evening, there is only so much inland dwelling I can stand before I have to have my fix!

Im also searching for a picnic basket, the traditional wicker kind to take on these excursions, full of delightful old napkins, plastic plates and tasty treats - we have a toddler so the nice china stuff will have to wait 'til she has grown out of crashing absent mindedly across the picnic blanket and demolishing the perfect 'Country Living' scene :-)

So much to do....but what lovely things they are indeed!

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