Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On lurking and burbling…

Dear Gorgeous Readers who will remain nameless and wonderfully anonymous…

In this most dark of my navy blue hue, I have received from beyond the ether two missives from two readers which have struck me deeply. It’s easy to believe/think/know that typing into the stratosphere is a wasted exercise, and it’s been much discussed in the press the change in author’s voice/tone that is inevitable between a diary and a blog. I am far more aware of my sentence structure and alliteration than I would be in a private notebook, and also write more often, thinking I’m letting someone down by not providing them with one more link with which to while away another latte.

In any case, I wanted to thank you all for your hits, your reading and your presence. It's funny, blogging, isn't it? I've come acropper in the past, getting intrigued and excited by others' stories, lives, triumphs and traumas. I think the power of words is so easy to underestimate, in this time of transient text and the demise of the handwritten. To that end, I have tried to keep this bluegray period of my life a little bit distant from the quasi-reality of engaging deeply with other blogs on the subject of babies and tears for fear of getting to sucked into the misery. I've been finding writing the blog posts in isolation strangely cathartic and also about the only record I'm able to keep of how crappy I feel (or not) from one post to the next. I think if you write down how rubbish you feel it can help to let it leak out and not seem quite so nameless and vast. I've often wondered who the people are lurking in the background and I'm honoured that you find time in your day to read my ramblings, rants and wrestling with yarns.

I have also found out that, as would be expected, with the statistics as they are, that those who have stumbled on my blog have been getting married. They’ve been getting pregnant. And others have not. I do feel terribly guilty about the blog, sometimes, knowing how many people struggle with conception and pregnancy and here I am with a baby and still not happy. I can only hope that it's helpful rather than offensive and informative rather than ignorant of my lot... There was an article in this weekend's Observer about miscarriage as the last big taboo. Shockingly sad but strangely normalising too, but then I've been lucky enough to not go through it myself.

Anyway. Thank you for staying around. And thanks for reading.

Give my love to the rest of the blogosphere, and do drop me a line or a comment, too, if you fancy saying hello, won't you?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stamping, sticking, cutting, stitching, selling

After much editing, fiddling, switching and trouble-shooting, the Boy has finished my little e-shop and we are finally getting to put up bits and bobs of stock.

P1050173 Perhaps I should state my credentials in one sentence… I learned to use a sewing machine when I was seven years old… It was clear that this would be neither the beginning nor the end of my craftiness... Since then, I was frequently to be found surrounded by fabrics, needles, paper, glue, clay, beads and a multitude of crayons, pens, paints and pencils, ready to wreak crafty havoc on anything in my vicinity.

I will freely admit that, had Tilly popped out three years old and ready to grasp a pair of safety scissors, I’d be golden. I have once or twice found her (nine months at last count) ravelled in yarn, but that is, thus far, the only creative streak we’ve discovered…Waiting for the next 24 months to pass, I am reduced to finding time for my own crafty fun as a mum, which it transpires, is harder than ever before.

There have been a myriad of successes and failures in my artistic output over the years. The coordinating tennis racket/tennis ball earrings were perhaps not the height of chic, but the our little handcrafted wedding certainly managed to feel homespun without feeling ‘homemade’. And that is where I am today. There are only so many times you can hear the phrase ‘Gosh, that’s fabulous, where did you get it?’ before starting to think that you really ought to think about selling things…

And my little crafty internet shop Homespun Living really all started from there. A place to sell and share some of the successes of my many crafty ventures.

P1040637 My Reel Necklaces, each made from a vintage spool of silk thread on a sterling silver chain, hit the shop of the Barbican Art Gallery in London during their last fashion exhibition and rapidly sold out. Made, as they are, from original vintage stock, sourced from many an old sewing drawer, they are each individual and thus each unrepeatable. I have never received more comments about something that I have made than I have when I wear my Reel Necklace, so I hope to spread their vintage charm around blogland and maybe even beyond!

For my Illustrated Alphabet Cards, each letter of the alphabet is adorned with illustrations that start with that letter, making it fun and only a little bit educational too! Each hand-drawn image is printed onto an A5 card in black and white that can be coloured in by your child, by you or, if you’d prefer, by me in bespoke watercolours on your behalf (for which I’m more than happy for you to claim the credit if you like!). There is room under the letter for your little one to write the name of the recipient, or again, I am happy to scribe on your behalf. They are suitable for birthdays, new babies, naming ceremonies and so forth and make a nice personalised change from the mountain of identi-cards we find in every card shop. In a sea of disposables I thought this card could also form a gorgeous keepsake and even, framed, would make a delightful nursery or bedroom decoration.

I hope to expand my stock on the site over the coming months, particularly with some seasonal ideas to bring a little homespun goodness to P1040464the same old gifts and decorations that we bring out year after year. For ease, there will be no postage costs for any UK orders on the site, or through my Folksy shop either, EVER. All transactions will be handled by PayPal, so no credit card or account details will be held on the system, leaving you safe to make your purchases with complete peace of mind.

There is plenty of scope to expand the site, and I hope this will be the beginning of a growing crafty Homespun presence. When I get my current little stockpile of craftiness complete, my homespun goodies will be available in two little interiors and lifestyle shops in Harpenden and Hitchin… I’m in cahoots with a couple more boutiques in St Albans, so keep everything crossed if you’re at a loose end…

Do drop on by and have a mooch. I’d love to see you there!

I have decided to concurrently list bits and bobs on Folksy too, mostly to sell more specific products: either one-off trials that took too long or products that I only had enough fabric to make one or two items of… Keep an eye on my goodies and again, NO POSTAGE! Hoorah!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cycling uphill and UpCycling

I have found myself a rather crafty little niche at the moment. Little projects, with instant ‘wow’ to ensure inspiration and satisfaction, utilising the enormous and disparate bags of UFOs, scraps, samples and leftovers that are scattered throughout the house…

P1050088 P1050086 P1050087

Exhibit 1: Pillowcase dress made from my nanny’s bedding ‘rescued’ from my mum’s airing cupboard… Along the vein of ‘you don’t need this one, do you??’… Ahem. Cheers, Mum!

P1050148 P1050150

Experimenting with florals, wadding and vintage habedashery for teacosies, interiors and other scrummy things…


Short attention span + low frustration levels + small child = easily fractious mummy… 


Turns out, little projects that take afternoons rather than aeons to create are right up my street at the moment.

And without giving too much away, I found out today that they happen to be just up someone else’s street too! And as that someone owns a couple little shops, it could just all start falling in to place…

What fun, Pip, what fun.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My go-to wedding sites…

Whenever I hear of an engagement, I bubble and shimmy with excitement at the planning and choosing and sifting and designing fun that awaits the happy couple. My first port of call is usually to send a congratulations card…

My second port of call is to send, usually the bride, a hop-skippy-happy email brim full of annoying enthusiasm and links for them to explore.

It occurred to me that those types of links may be useful to people who happen upon this blog…

And so…

  • Indie Bride Original Wedding Reading Repository – absolutely the best (and seemingly never-ending) list of suggestions of interesting, unusual, intriuging and wonderfully under-used readings that may just suit a quirky element in you. We certainly found our reading here – Union by Robert Fulgham
  • Etsy weddings – the best and most varied selection of handmade and individual EVERYTHING including cake toppers, accessories, dresses, buttonholes, favours and everything else in between
  • Duo Boots for larger shoes – being a ‘lady of height’ I have been delighted with the range of styles and sizes available at Duo. For some reason, a lot of my friends are tall… Therefore this is relevant…!
  • for good ideas and images on every aspect
  • The Wedding Planning Timetable – the best and most useful piece of planning equipment to have in your arsenal… A working-backwards-by-category planner that enables you to organise your panic into manageable chunks! In all seriousness, this was an absolute godsend: I was able to control my worries about different aspects by seeing at a glance when things had to happen by, and thus, what my next task would be… INVALUABLE to the organisational brides out there…
  • VV Rouleaux for flowers, ribbons, haberdashery and elegant means to create your day in your own way. I managed to attend a sample warehouse sale to purchase the hair flowers and wired ribbon for wrapping our thank-you presents.
  • Wedding flowers in season – handy for convincing you that peonies in December may not be such a good idea…

There are many thousand and thousand and million sites out there and certainly the wonderful wonderful internet continues to inspire and enrage me in equal measure on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

However, it is very easy to agree that weddings, and in particular, our little Countryside Wedding, would have been a completely different affair without the wonders of the world wide web. From shipping in the silk from Hong Kong, the reproduction print cotton from the US and the smorgasbord of ideas from SMP, TBC and many many others, happy surfing and happy planning!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The most important meal of the day

When it involves French Toast, warmed winter berries and maple syrup, it most certainly is important…


Flower Power – Autumn Wedding Flowers No. 1

I was a guest at a gloriously vibrant yellow summer wedding this weekend. There are a load of gorgeous images that I’ll upload shortly, but it got me thinking about seasonal flowers, bouquets and suchlike.

Here’s a roundup of some ideas from around the web that make me smile for the looming cooler weather of autumn, for which I have three friends busily planning their nuptials…

Herbs and roses for a nosegay with height and depth.

Amnesia Roses and more by

Organic components including dried ferns and mushroom pods combine with fresh berries and roses by The Colour of Magic.

List below adapted from this site

Flowers Blooming in Autumn are:

  • Acacia – yellow pompoms
  • Allium – lilac/blue pompoms
  • Alstromeria – many colours, small blooms
  • Amaranthus – fuchsia, purple, magenta fronds
  • Anemone – purples, reds, blues, poppy looking flower
  • Baby's Breath – white miniature lightweight floral
  • Bittersweet – red/orange berry/flower
  • Carnation – many colours and incarnations (scuse the pun!)
  • China berry – pale green foliage
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Cockscomb – fuchsia, magenta, hairy wobbly frond – looks a bit like a hairy ear!!
  • Cosmos – pink, lilac, lavenders with yellow centre – daisy-like
  • Echinops – lavender, blue pompoms
  • Freesia – soft blooms, many colours, with extra buds under each flower.
  • Gerbera Daisy – bright colours, self explanatory, non?
  • Gladiolus – long stems of multiple flowers in bright colours 
  • Hypericum berries – bright red with green foliage

I to Z in a following post….

Happy contemporary styles here for eyeing up purposes

And this site too is rather pretty

Hooky Stripey Atticy Lucy-y Ta Dah-Y Post

Well, it’s taken me much less time than I feared, which is testament to the terrifyingly addictive nature of the Granny Stripe Hook A Long…


First there was yarn…


Then there were a few stripes…


Then there was a hot, heavy pile of stripes…


Then there was the border…


The long acres of double crochets, trebles and singles…


And then it was done…


And then I was proud…


And then the orders from others start rolling in… Oh blimey, here goes the next one…

Friends in talented places


Surfing the output of talented friends

Eyeing up their work and dropping ‘subtle’ hints…

Receiving original artwork in the post from far and wide…

Thanks, Uncle Dennis! I’m the luckiest little non-neice you’ve ever had!!

Seeing Dennis’ amazing lino output has made me lust after classes in my area… I really enjoyed the process at school and feel I MUST take up the printing roller again soon.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Celebrity Ponderings…


Turns out that even when you call your children a version of biblical fruit salad and marry a songwriter of extraordinarily miserable songs you are still able to write thought-provoking and beautifully articulate articles.

When I watched Sliding Doors all those years ago and lusted after her immaculately fresh and funky blonde crop, I did not envisage leaking silent tears to her collated descriptions of befuddled heads and hormonal months of hell.

Thanks, Gwyn. I feel like we’ve met.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Light in the Garden

A chink of sunlight…

A glimmer of a giggle…

Today is a Good Day…

I have experienced today, rather than endured today.

I have smiled with my daughter and enjoyed her and undulated with her experience of this thunderstorm-filled Wednesday. Not all of it was uneventful; indeed, her afternoon ‘nap’ consisted for 45 minutes of rage on her part and repeated stair-trodding on my part.

I feel like Winston Churchill proclaiming the sentiment about ends, beginnings, beginnings, middles, ends, middles and so forth.

It will more than likely be crappy again. It will more than likely thunderstorm in places other than St Albans town centre.

But for today. For this evening, I am laughing.

At this joke.

And I am taking up my needle for the next project…


Please don’t hate me!!!

Thunk goes the camera…

In homage to Eleanor Anne Balch and her mummy’s great blog

Tilly, the crawling masterpiece at 7 1/2 months…

We’re doomed…

Monday, August 02, 2010

Heads and Headers


As you may have noticed, we’re having something of an identity crisis over here. I know my header banner is in need of some TLC but the plaster-over-broken-leg solution was not working so have returned to the ol’faithful Blogger to get something in for the time being. If nothing else, it now says ‘CountRyside’ which makes more sense than before… Please forgive our appearance while I work out what on earth I want my blog to look like.


Had a much needed break last weekend and got taken to a stately home hotel for a few days. It was a great short-term fix, but unsurprisingly, I guess, now that I’m back in my familiar surroundings, my head is as cloudy as ever. Have been crocheting like a demon (possibly to distract, possibly to CREATE in order to be the valedictorian of creativity, if not for mothering, wife-ing, friend-ing and various other categories which I’m not sure I’m doing very well in at the moment) and very much appreciating the various messages I’ve received from lurkers, bloggers, forum typers and allsorts that have told me that I will feel better.

P1050051That’s just as well. At the moment, no amount of crocheted birdies bring a smile to my face, despite their jolly colours. Have decided that I would like to attach one to every present this year come December, so thought it would be a good stash-buster and car-crochet activity to get on with.

Wish me luck while I continue treading water, treading on carpets-in-need-of-vacuuming, and treading the treadmill of mummyhood.


Normal activity will shortly resume, I’m assured.