Workshop updates

Just a  quick post about new workshops and a new date for a previous one. My baby hare workshop at Sticky Prints in Norfolk has been moved to June 17th - it's a long train journey from Shropshire, so do come if you're in the East and haven't been able to get to one of my other classes.

July 1st sees me at the Stoke-on-Trent Potteries Museum, home of the nation's Staffordshire ceramics collection. It's an all day workshop where you can make your own miniature needle felted Staffordshire cat. 


And for August, I'm booked to be in London, at the Village Haberdashery - this is a one off, where you can make the kittens featured in this month's 'Mollie Makes', using the wools shown in the original pattern. It's another all day session and my only London booking this year, so early booking is advised.

All of these workshops are subject to booking. There is a complete list on the workshops page of my website, where you will find booking links and more details. Hope to see you!


Auction snaps

Out of necessity, rather than choice, we live very quiet and secluded lives at the moment. I don't think we've had a day out since Joe's graduation last July. So it was good to get out with Brian-next-door and view a couple of local auctions. This one was selling the contents of two estates. There was the usual hotch potch of mixed lots and items of interest. 


 The ubiquitous, slightly unnerving antique dolls were there, of course.


It was a very good selection of lots, but I instinctively knew that it would all be beyond my very small £10-£20 budget and there were some serious looking dealers poking about.

Brian enjoys having a good look too, but he is not allowed to buy anything. I told him that Jean won't let him come out to play if he starts bringing stuff home.

So on we went to another small town, driving over towards the Welsh border in the evening rain.

This auction house was rammed. With people and over a thousand lots being sold over two days.

Brian went off to visit some nearby friends whilst Joe and I ventured in. There was a lot of squidging past people and 'excuse me's'. There was also more taxidermy, including a huge and magnificent boar's head and, unusually, an otter, which must have had some age as they have been protected here in the UK for years, I believe. Probably to save them from being stuffed.

Again, I was a bit out of my league here, and there was far too much going on. We headed back home, through the long winding lanes. I've lived in Shropshire for nearly five years now, and have barely seen any of it, what with not driving and having no money. So just to get out of the cottage, love it though I do, was an uplifting experience and I felt my spirits rise for the first time in ages. It's great to get out, even if it is raining. 



Kittens with ruffs

I can remember the first time I was asked to create a cover pattern for 'Mollie Makes' back in its early days in 2012. Since then, I've done several more patterns for them, and five years later I'm rather proud to have my fourth cover with them.

This is a nice, easy design, which should only take a few hours. And of course, can be made in whatever colours or patterns you prefer.

Issue 78 of 'Mollie Makes' has just come out in UK shops and will be in overseas venues later. Also available as digital downloads, with a quick online search. Make kittens...with cute ruffs...be happy.


A bready miracle

Well, here's a first! I've made bread on and off (more off than on) for most of my adult life. I do make acceptable small rolls, but free form loaves, the kind I've yearned to master, have been a little flat. No matter how much I tucked them in, they always spread and while they were nice enough (if a little dense) I have never achieved that fluffy inner one desires. So last night I had another attempt. This time I kneaded the dough for nearly half an hour. After two rises, and with a slight sigh, I made a traditional cob loaf. Imagine my surprise when it stayed in one shape, apart from rising beautifully. With trepidation I gently put it in the oven. Even then it didn't flop. Instead I got a lovely, bosomy, thin crusted loaf with a soft and holey interior. It actually felt and tasted like real bread. It may never happen again, but it did happen once.


Not very moveable type

It's been nine years since I blogged about rescuing a quantity of letterpress type and Adana printers from being skipped. Back then it was all crammed into the tiny cottage and I never had the space and time to go through it or use it. When Andy and I made the big move in 2012, it was stored in someone's shed and in 2015 I had it moved here. And it all went into another shed. 

There it has remained. Not the best place for it; as you can see, there are quite a few gaps in the shed walls, the roof leaks and next door's ivy continuously invades any crack it can find. So recently, to prevent it all deteriorating any further, I moved it into the cottage. 

I did it bit by bit. The cabinets, being full of metal type, are a little bit heavy. After a couple of hours, I had nearly all of it inside. For the moment it is in our main 'den' until I can sort it out properly. 

It's not exactly convenient, but I need to sell a fair bit of what I have, and it has to be in a dry place. The printers and other sundries are now jamming up the little front room we recently sorted out.

So I'm gradually sorting through the bits and bobs, deciding what can go to help with the mortgage. It feels like selling off the family silver, but I have far more than I need and at this point in my life, I still don't have the time to play with it. I have enjoyed cleaning things up though, such as this old lead cutter. Transformed from this...

 ...to this. 

It went off to a new home yesterday.


'The Needlewoman'

One of my favourite periods for colour is the 1930s. Generally muted and with sophisticated combinations.

These are editions of 'The Needlewoman'; in its way, the 'Mollie Makes' of it's time. Each magazine came with a free embroidery transfer. This batch of six magazines I have still contains four of the original transfers.

The covers are simply gorgeous, being mostly illustrated; I wonder if in eighty years time our era of brightly photographed craft magazines will be as admired?

Beautiful as they are, and much as I love them, I've put them up for sale. I've enjoyed having them, but I'm not an embroiderer, so they've become part of the big clear out.


Now this set of embroidery booklets I will be truly sorry to sell, if anyone buys them. I half hope they don't. This is a complete set of 'Pearsalls Embroidery', sold periodically from 1908 to 1909.

They are letter pressed onto thick cream sugar paper, so that you can see the indentation of the type when you hold the page to the light. There are only a few colour plates, but in their time they would have been a quality publication.

Although I don't embroider, I just love the design, graphics and illustrations, so typically Edwardian, with a flavour of the Arts and Crafts movement.

A lot more was demanded of the average person's crafting skill in those days - no catering to the bottom line, but sophisticated designs which required actual knowledge or the ability to apply oneself to learning. 

It's quite a thought that they are nearly 120 years old, which makes them proper antiques. And that the six editions have stayed together for all that time.

The small adverts are quite wonderful, with 'Miss Strawson' advertising her designs 'Ye Signe of Ye Spindle' and 'Mrs Evershed' plying her 'church and decorative needlework'. They sound almost Dickensian, especially 'F.W Catt' selling 'specialité waistcoats for working in silk, wool, and chenille'. 

Just in case there are any collectors of old embroidery publications reading this, they are on sale at my eBay shop for a few more days. Much as I'd like to keep them, I'd like to sell them more, to someone who appreciates them as much as I do.