Thursday, 26 February 2009


Much stitchery has taken place in my little and extremely messy sewing room. Actually, I realise that although I call it 'little' it is quite the opposite in reality. Messy, however, is quite another thing. Messy it definitely is. This is in part due to the working on of orders, but mostly because I am working on a new range which always involves me pulling out endless fabrics, throwing them away when the desired effect is not achieved and repeating the process... over and over again, generally sewing like a mad thing and gnashing my teeth at the frustration brought about by ideas not immediately translating as I wish.

Finally, the breakthrough is reached and the needle flies across the linen or whatever I may be using as a base for the hand embroidery I use on almost all my products. Then I become obsessed and want to work away forever.

Of course, sometimes my sketches and designs work straight away; oh, the heady feeling that comes hand in hand with a project that works first time. I do wonder if it is the same for everyone or does the fact that I have a head constantly brimful of colours and textures and if I only tried it in that colourway/stitch/size makes it almost a painful process sometimes? Reality tells me that creativity which has to be turned on and off according to a family's needs is always going to be a hard path to tread, but somehow we make it work and I am able to race to the task as the moment frees itself, even if only for ten minutes (do you know how many lazy daisies can be sewn in just ten minutes? Quite amazing really).

And it will not always be this way. My little Isabella turns three in May and time is already running away from me. However excited I am about the idea of more time to work on developing this business it is tinged with sadness at that letting go. I like having her with me, though am honest enough to admit to loving a break. I like the fact that my embroidery threads are beyond disgraceful because she plays with them on the days I have no choice but to work while she is awake. I love the way we cook and paint and do 'garding', both clad in wellies and covered in mud. There have been many (many, many, many...getting the picture?) clashes between the stubborness that is Isabella and the equal stubborness of her mother, but somewhere deep inside I am so proud of the fact that we have struggled through together and she is negotiating the rights and wrongs of her world with my help, and I with hers. I also know how lucky I am to be able to do this with Dave's support. Money has been hard, more than hard and there has been the constant guilt of knowing I am home where I could be out earning a regular wage as opposed to the irregular one my so far small business brings, but together Dave and I have made it work, choosing this difficult path for what feels the better good for us, for our family. I truly believe everyone should do what feels right for them and this was it for us. But slowly, slowly it is changing as my precious baby grows and I know it will still be good...different, but just as good.

Golly, that was not the post I thought I was going to write and I do apologise for my ramble, but it is obviously all very much on my mind and I suppose my blog is as good a place as any to offload! Funny how the mind weaves its own trail from one thought to another, each new thought laid down like the tiniest stitch to be worked on and mulled over before moving on to the next. My thoughts must now turn back to these particular stitches of which more will be revealed hopefully next week (she said with an air of something wonderful to behold and thus guaranteeing a sigh of deepest disappointment I fear!).

Have a lovely rest of week xx

Monday, 23 February 2009

The Half Term Holiday.

The children are back at school today after the best half term week. The sun shone a fair bit and even when it didn't the air was so much milder than previously and we spent much time outside to make the most of it. The allotment now has sixteen beds of approximately 10ft by 4ft each, dug and manured where needed thanks to Mr Davey's incredibly hard work. Already broad beans and salad leaves are growing, onions and garlic planted and shooting away rapidly, and potatoes planted out. I have dug out and split rhubarb from our own garden to be taken up there and the fruit beds will have redcurrants, raspberry canes and a grape added to them hopefully next weekend. The picture shows it at the part way stage and unfortunately doesn't do it any justice as the grass paths so desperately need cutting. Ah well, take it on trust that it looks amazing and has galvanised us into action at home as well.

While Dave has spent an couple of hours each day working on the beds, the girls and I have worked away on our garden here which was sorely in need of a massive overhaul. I dug out the compost heap and used the wonderfully crumbly compost to dress the beds. The hen pen needed a bit of re-fencing so out I ventured, staple gun close to hand and Lucy raking up leaves all around. The beds I recently dug out to surround a new lawn area - dug out, raked and seeded now - are looking most Spring-like as the daffodils are breaking into bud ready to follow the pretty drifts of crocuses which are almost over. I found these very early and miniscule potatoes hiding amongst the compost

The geenhouse has also had a sort out and I cleared the side area too in order to use it as a place for pot stacking, a job which took all day and had me muttering darkly at the waste of a perfectly good day until I reached the fun part of building a little wall and step which is something I love to do. I planted primroses into the cracks and already their creamy flowers are can be spotted from the kitchen window. But the holiday did not only consist of gardening; knitting was also on the agenda! Dave completed this lovely garter stitch scarf, all warm and snuggly for a day like today where the sun has left us once more...

I finished the first of the socks I started a little while ago and now need to make sure the next one does not have the slight laddering effect near the heel which I forgot to check on as I knitted...sighs deeply in annoyance. Other than that I am pleased with the sock and the tones of the wool please me muchly. Dave tells me it feels amazing to wear with the heel cupping the foot in a way I cannot understand as it is far to big for me. Knew I should have knitted myself a pair first (and there would have been far less to knit too!). I do wish I could photograph long things such as these in a way which made them look far lovelier than this.

A pair of mittens have almost come off the needles ready to be sent off to a friend who chose this gorgeous wool of slate blue flecked with chips of green, red and a paler blue. Such a lovely wool to knit with, but as the label is somewhere in another room I can't let you know what it is just now.

So, all in all a lovely holiday full of plenty of activity, plenty of knitting, plenty of outings to beautiful places such as this ruin by the river, the woodland trees on the opposite banks still sleeping their winter sleep and the heron basking in the shallows of an ebbing tide

and of course, plenty of eating too. In fact, I'm off for a one of these chocolate and orange brownies right now as Isabella and I are going to play picnics and these seem just the thing.

Hope you all have a good week xx

Monday, 16 February 2009

Half term so far.

Thank goodness for half term holidays. What could be better than lazing in bed with a delicious pot of coffee to hand, pile of gardening books at the ready, chatting away about what the day may bring? Spring is in the air today and the early morning sunlight has that wonderful hazy quality which hopefully promises a chance to be outside. Dave has been heading up to the allotment early each morning to dig over beds ready for the copious amounts of manure collected from friends with horses. He takes our hen Discovery with him so that she can spend some time in the ark he made to sit over the beds, foraging for slugs and snails, and hopefully scoffing the eggs which suggest an onslaught later in the year. It is so funny to watch them set off down the path each morning towards the car. Still, things are moving forward and the garlic is already growing away, shoots beginning to appear on the blackcurrants.

Here the garden is festooned with little drifts of yellow crocuses, their starry flowers taking centre stage until the daffodils are ready to shake out their skirts. In the meantime a jug of bought ones cheers the room bringing sun even when none is present. Delicate sprays of pale blossom dress the winter flowering cherry, a small tree as yet bought for five pounds a few years ago from the scrap pile at a local garden centre. It has served us well so far, bending its graceful branches over the duck pond in an attempt to pretty this sometimes less than beautiful area and it makes me laugh when I think of how I once viewed this pond as a thing of beauty, its banks graced by swathes of flag iris, bullrushes and a tangle of other water-loving plants. These plants now border the little wildlife pond I hastily built once I realised the naive error of my ways, racing to dig out clumps of water hyacinths, forget-me-nots and marsh marigolds before the ducks had devoured them completely. Sometimes I do wonder at my blind optimism!

Other good things about the first days of the holiday? Well, bizarrely I would list work here, but as I like being busy perhaps that's not so surprising. I love what I do and so the idea of working in the holiday is not a problem for me and is a necessity anyway as orders don't stop just because children are home. Sketching has taken over where previously I have struggled to pick up my pencil for some reason completely unknown to me. Suddenly the banks are broken and I find myself scribbling into my sketchbook like one possessed, anything and everything becoming a still life to my eye, the shades and shadows, the play of light on surface, all of the possibilities and how to translate them have begun to occupy my mind and it feels so good to be back in the flow again. Tulips particularly appear on the page ... no idea why, but there they are. A break from business work came int he form of this cushion made for Lucy's friend's birthday. It is a lot cheerier than the dull light allows it to look and has a mix of applique and hand embroidery which doesn't really show here. Most fun to do.

So, two days in and card games have been played...

walks on the beach undertaken...

sock knitting with lovely friend Diana as we chatted the time away (and Diana, I messed up the toe decrease BIG time!).

and a lovely valentine's meal of mussels picked by my dear Dave after a long day at work. It is not alwyas easy to find time for each other with a family this large, but we do try to make the effort where we can. With the prospect of only having a toddler who is always tucked into her bed by 7 o'clock and no other children around for a change we decided Friday would be Valentine's night. Without me knowing, Dave drove to my favourite beach on the north coast, a drive which takes 40 minutes from his work place, and clambered over rocks dressed rather innappropriately in a suit as waves crashed all around (wild coast this). By the time he arrived home - a drive of one and a half hours - I had almost given up on him, thinking he had had to work late yet again. Not only was I given this lovely gift, but he also gave me three smooth stones collected from the same beach on the advice of a gypsy who had tried to sell him some flowers in the beach car park. His reply to her offer of flowers was a shake of the head. Apparently he told her he wanted to give me the gift of three wishes, to which she replied that he was a romantic and would need to collect three pebbles that called out to him. When I am ready to make my wish, I choose the one which feels right, say the words she gave him and throw the stone back into the sea as I make the wish. How perfect is that? I do love that Dave makes so many special moments for me. And no, I will not be wishing for ridiculous things as that is not how Romany magic works!

Well, having shared that little story with you and no doubt mortifying Dave in the process, I will now take me off to sort the greenhouse which currently has no walls.
Have a good week xx

Saturday, 14 February 2009

No mystery really.

I feel I must just put a quick note up as I hadn't realised my previous blog had hinted at such mystery. I felt the need to write in order to overcome the frustration of waiting for news, but as it is we are still waiting, albeit for news of a slightly different ilk. It is truly nothing momentous and I almost wish I hadn't mentioned it at all, but more I cannot say for fear of jinxing what may happen before it is confirmed. Really the blog was about the knitting!

So there we are: nothing to report, just an apology for implying a mystery I hadn't intended to imply and a note to self to think before writing rather than allowing the words to tumble onto the page (screen) in my usual haphazard way. Normal blogging will be resumed next week and, as it is half term, may include such exciting things as marmalade making (yum), allotment digging (groan) or pea wine concocting (possibly yum, though more likely yuk!).

Back to bathing the children!

Happy weekend all x

Monday, 9 February 2009

Turning a heel.

I am full of nervous energy today and know I won't be able to settle to anything. There are things going on around here, things which could mean change for us as a family, but I won't know if they will go ahead until this evening. This is hard for me as I am not a particularly patient person, but I shall just have to wait...and wait ... and wait.

What a long day this will be. My usual way of coping with that jumpy feeling is to clean, so no doubt the little house will be sparkling like a new pin by tonight, dinner gently cooking away and much knitting/sewing/game playing will have been undertaken to keep my naturally fidgety mind under control.

Knitting is such good therapy for a restless mind. I find there is soothing in the repetitive working of stitches and my mind can ramble on as for much of it as I don't need to concentrate that hard, not even look at the work for some of the time. At the moment I am making a pair of socks for Davey. "Why?" I hear you ask, when they can be bought for a mere pittance at the supermarket. And you would be right, but there is nothing like the feel of something you have worked yourself, the mix of colours and the fact that they will last for years with luck. This wool is a soft mix of greys, brown and charcoal redolent of the granite rocks so abundant throughout Cornwall, and I love it. I have never knitted socks before and am enjoying the challenge, though I think it may be something not everyone would understand judging by the reaction of the girl in the wool shop who informed me with with a bemused and jaded look that 'Sarah will be here on Wednesday and she gets extraodinarily excited by turning a heel!' Just wonderful.

Sarah sounds just my sort of person. I love that I have so many interests in the world of craft and am always ready to try something new. I 'get' why someone can lose whole hours in a fabric shop just gazing and touching, dreaming up new projects, assessing the quality of velvet over tweed and finding them both appealing. I understand how a wall of wool can excite beyond measure suggesting cosy mittens or luxurious scarves to warm on cold days, how the sight of a pattern book can conjure up images of country walks snuggled deep in the folds of the softest of sweaters. I can stare longingly at papers and inks and paints, the myriad colours of soft tissue paper calling to me and boxes of pencils whispering to me to take them, put them to paper, create an image.

I have always been the same and remember having a go at anything and everything as a little girl, the fascination of creating even then being strong in me. I am the same with many things. Gardening and growing is a passion, a necessity to me. All forms of cooking hold so much pleasure too, as does the making of wines, the mixing of cordials. I love them all. I am lucky in that I share my life with my lovely Dave who also gets it all, even recently asking me to teach him to knit. Of course, thanks to the internet I am lucky enough to be able to chat about the merits of cotton over linen, 4 ply against chunky or card over canvas with so many other people who also share these passions. That is why I so so love the world of blogging where like minded friends can be made and projects shared.

Still, I am meandering in my thoughts as I try to push the waiting away. Time to get on with the day and see what evolves; time to start the orders and post them off; time to make and bake and play.

Time to turn a heel.

Have a good day everyone x

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

And then it snowed...

It took a little longer to reach our part of Cornwall, the soft south coast with its zone 10 climate - Dave likes to quote such things, bless him - but arrive it finally did. Snow enough to settle. Such a rarity here and so much fun to be had.

The garden was transfomed to a Christmas card prettiness with the ducks nestled in snow and the writing room taking on a cabin-like look, its summer bunting draping rather lamely and reminding me a new range is due.

Thin branches of winter flowering cherry hold frozen crystals which sparkel in the cool light.

The last of the rosehips from the delicate Ballerina rose stand out against the blanket of white.

Lemony, Maple, Biscuit and Mustang (oh dear, that name!) seem mildy impressed by the stange flooring, though not so impressed by the frozen pond which denies them their morning diving session.

Biscuit stood like this for ages, almost frozen in disbelief at what had taken place. She's such a pretty duck and much, much larger than the photograph shows. All our ducks are about 2-3 times as large as wild ducks, but I digress.

Back to the snow...

Somebody enjoyed it.

As did her sister, particularly while snowballing Daddy

Hmm.... bit Hannibal lecter in that hat.

And in case anyone thinks I never do any work, here's a pair of fingerless mittens I made myself and no, I am not punching the cat. It is very hard to take a photograph of one's own hand and not have a shaky picture!

Have a good Wednesday xx

Monday, 2 February 2009

A February morn.

It seems most of the country is having snow judging by the news. Not Cornwall. Here it is -3 this morning and beautiful. The sky is a brilliant blue and the sun is shining with so much strength, almost like a March day throwing the trees into a sharp relief. Of course, this meant grabbing the camera as we left for the school run and a diversion on the way home to chase that perfect wave...yet again.

It was beautiful. The waves surged and broke with an energy that quite belies the still day, far more suggestive of the howling north-easterly wind of yesterday which had offered a darkness and bone chilling icyness that made leaving the house too much of a chore. A distant memory this morning as seawood lay tossed in heaps, glinting in the early morning sun like so many jewels.

There is something about the feel of that sea chill freckled with salt spray, the shooshing sound of the sea as it breaks on the sand and slides hurriedly back once more filling your ears, the whole frequently forgotten in the adrenline surge of a crashing wave against granite rock.

Pummelling ... pounding ... persistent...

Ancient rock caught in slanting light, golden and grey and brown. Sharp edges melted slowly, so slowly, by aeons of the ageless seas.

Translucent waves roll weed in their midst, tumbling it onto the shore to be picked over by oystercatchers looking for some tasty morsel, their peeping cries carried away by the breeze.

Blinding light contrasts with the shadowed belly of a breaking wave

Gentler moments as the sea rests for a moment, just a moment, before continuing its morning play once more.

Occasionally almost frivolous as it shimmies onto the sand, seemingly shaking its skirts like a dancer in defiance of being told it is time to stop, that the dance is over.

Then reminds me of its rapidly changing nature.

Hope you enjoyed the stroll across the beach.

Bye for now xx