A Creative Catch Up

It’s been some weeks since I’ve been here,I’m ashamed to say I’ve been neglecting this creative outlet. I’m committing a lot of time to my other blog The Puffin Diaries but this part of me is just as important, this is my creative haven. So in order to bring everything back in line, into the present, I thought I would share a creative catch up with you.

So before Christmas I finished crocheting the baby hat for my new little nephew LSJ. I was very proud of the creation, in navy blue merino wool, with a little peak to the front, another item from Nicki Trench. You will however have to take my word for the brilliance of my work because I forgot to photograph it, but it is exactly as the picture below without the flower, honest.


Like I said navy blue minus the flower…

The kids and I also made Christmas tree decorations as gifts for school teachers, it was fairly easy and pain free, actually we had a bit of fun. We used air drying clay, cookie cutters, lace fabric, gold spray paint and ribbon. Quite straight forward as you can see from the pictures. Bit late to do a post now but if you are desperate to know the details leave a comment, failing that I’ll try to remember to post December this year.


Top left – the cut out shapes with pattern pressed in, Top Right and Bottom Left – Sprayed gold, Bottom Right – on the tree

My greatest achievement recently I’ve saved until last. This has made me so very excited……… I crocheted round a stone. This is a project I discovered and pinned it last year. As we visited the seaside in the New Year it was an ideal opportunity to attempt this project. So I did, what more to say other than here it is.


Very clever don’t you think?

Just as an aside I also rustled up seven skeleton outfits for our local Pantomime which I enjoy helping with. So not a bad creative patch. For the future I will finish making my sons curtains, I’m so close now. And on Monday evening I’m hosting the first meet up of a wool crafting group I’ve started. I will feed back on news from the Woolly Heads, knitting, crocheting, tea cake, chat and inspiration what is not to like.

What creative things have you been up to? Let me know below….


Lady of the Manor

In one of my other lives I would liked to have been the lady of the manor, I think I could work the wellies and tweeds during the day and the odd ball gown of an evening. Plus it can’t be too hard to live with a silver spoon in ones mouth. There is only one lady on which to style this look, the unforgettable Audrey Forbes-Hamilton. Her poise and elegance rubbing up against here ballsy attitude mean she carried of this prim look with the confidence it requires.

A look that appeared to be a little fusty in the 80’s today has been given a cool overhaul by the likes of Burberry, of course,Stella McCartney and Chloe to name a few, now this autumn winter, country tweeds are all the rage. I love the way that they have been layered with other patterns or different sized checks in order to create an edgier look. Maybe you could wear your tweed jacket with winter floral blouse or a tweed skirt with tartan tight or add a statement t-shirt and a yellow belt as they did at Burberry.

So with this gorgeous winter trend in mind I’ve been scouting out some vintage Country House pieces to offer at Freda and Me and here are the best, all available at my Etsy shop or click on the pictures below.

Inspire Me 5/11/12 – Ribbons and Braids

Oh how I love a charity shop, especially a slightly higgledy piggledy one in a small  back water of a town where the wealth of it’s content goes unnoticed. These are my charity shops, the ones where I live and with every visit I buzz with excitement at the boundless possibilities ahead. I have even managed to instill the love of rummaging amongst the rails and boxes of these outlets in my children, much to my husbands displeasure. So this last weekend, whilst daddy was else where youngest son and I took a trip to one of these shops.

I always like to look through the tablecloth, curtain, and duvet section but as I set myself to plunder the rail I almost tripped over a box at the foot of it. Looking down a glint of gold caught my eye and as I bent for a closer inspection my heart rate quickened. A floral braid of red, orange and gold is sparkling away on top, I delve in to reveal the items underneath. More braids, pom pom, tassel and decorative. I’m excited, but slightly anxious, there is no price and as always there is a nagging thought of do I need them? A price established with a kindly old lady soon dashes all practical thoughts, at that price who could resist. So I am the proud owner of these beautiful embellishments and they will be inspiring me to make something this week. Bring on the sewing…

So what has made you tingle with possibilities, gasp with creative joy  or urged you to bake, make or create? Maybe it’s a person maybe it’s a place you’ve visit, something you’ve read or something you’ve seen . A picture, words or both. So come along and join in, share your inspirations with me and maybe you can inspire someone else. Or maybe you are looking for inspiration if so check out the list on the Linky page.

I will post my inspirations on a Monday but the list will remain open all week. Sometimes inspiration does not work to a timetable.I would love to know. please share it here….

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I’ve also linked up this week with the Wonderful Magpie Monday, click the badge to see more…

Me and My Shadow

Inspire Me 29/10/2012 – Still Crocheting

Inspire Me 29/10/2012 – Still Crocheting

This new found skill has me all in a flutter with ideas, I’ve already blogged about becoming hooked. I started crocheting a circular cushion, shown above and suddenly I could see all sorts of possibilities. The first round of stitches … Continue reading

Inspire Me

I do that thing, when my husband can’t stand the towering pile of magazines pushing up my side of the bed or threatening to topple and wipe out one corner of the lounge, I go through the magazines and tear out all the things I like and recycle what’s left. Every kitchen I want, holiday I desire, all the food I need in my life, those dresses I covet, they become a stack of ripped edge paper that creates a new but smaller pile on my side of the bed or in a corner of the lounge.

Recently I found this image of a woolen Chanel dress, it’s from Red magazine back in 2010. I think it’s so beautiful, the knitted texture and the shiny trimming are a match made in heaven. It looks effortlessly simple yet I doubt that is the case and far from inexpensive at £4,145. It got me wondering just how difficult or easy it would be to create such an item, what stitches were used and is it hand or machine knitted? It has definitely spurred me on in my ambition to conquer crocheting and  I was thinking I should try and master some new knitting stitches. Whether I achieve wool craft world domination or not, I am loving being inspired by this dress.

I have a giant peg to which I attach these images, pictures which I hope will inspire me to be creative. It struck me that you lot out there may also look for inspiration in all sorts of places and how I would love to hear about it. Maybe it’s a person maybe it’s a place you’ve visit, something you’ve read or something you’ve seen . A  picture, words or both. So come along and join in, share your inspirations with me and maybe you can inspire someone else. Or maybe you are looking for inspiration if so check out the list on the Linky page.

I will post my inspirations on a Monday but the list will remain open all week. Sometimes inspiration does not work to a timetable.

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Crocheting always seemed like something I couldn’t do. I had never tried, not even considered having a go, just watching my mum working that single hook and her fingers left me feeling incapable. That is why I’ve always let her do all the crocheting pieces for Freda and Me.  I’d often heard people say “I can’t get the hang of crocheting” complaining about its complicity. This and those often far from comprehensible diagrams that you find in some crafting books had worked their way to convincing me of the impossibility of this craft. That was until recently when I finally decide the time was right to tackle this beast.

A Flower crocheted by mum and then beaded by me. Available in my shop.

My mum taught me to knit a long time ago, in my teen’s maybe. As I am left handed and her right, it caused some confusion trying to reverse the knitting action and in the end I just learnt to knit right handed like her. So sitting side by side again, me forty and, let’s not embarrass  mum, her more mature again, I feel young once more  warmed by the prospect of sharinga skill. We attempt the right handed version as we had with knitting but I struggle desperately to manipulate the thread with the fingers of my left hand and the hook in my right. It appears like it may not be possible after all. Swapping over to try left handed, it at first seems even more alien as now my instructor seems unsure of what we are doing. Slowly we piece it together and then a small “click”. Somewhere in the recesses of my creative cortex crocheting makes sense. Admittedly it’s shaky and slow but the concept of what I am doing is understood. I try a couple of different stitches and now, don’t hold me back I want to make something. I start with a flower.

I made that first flower into this brooch. Available in my Shop..

My mum  invested in a book for use to share, small crocheting projects to tackle. The book Cute & Easy Crotchet by Nicki Trench. It’s a beautiful book, the images are fresh and modern as are the designs and colour palette of yarns,  full of inspiration. I examine the pages with eagerness and desire to make and create. What shall my first project be? I’m drawn in by the bright colours of Cafetiere Cosy and the more difficult but very striking Stripy Wave Cushion, but an arrival in the post  makes my decision for me.

The Book

All my own work.

Wrapped safely inside, my hooks.

The package contained a colourful set of crocheting hooks. So the chosen project was the Hook Holder. It was a perfect baptism to the world of crocheting. The main section required repetitive rows of the same stitch, allowing me to improve my tension and hook handling without having to worry about which stitch was coming next. Edging the piece was slightly more challenging but I got a great sense of achievement from creating the pretty scalloping. For me the fact that some sewing of material was also required endeared me more to the project as I love mixing crafts and materials.

So to crocheting I am officially hooked and I’m already planning my next project. What will it be? Wait and see.

Spanish Treasures

Whilst perusing a small vintage shop the other day I spotted the Spanish dancer. Skirt all a ruffled and striking a pose of intensity, with the elegant curve of her back, her flamenco prowess on full display. Amazing isn’t it that I got all this from a needlepoint tapestry, but it was love at first sight she drew me in the moment I saw her. You see the art of Spanish dancing is woven into my very artistic, dramatic being.

In my early years I used to do a little bit of Spanish dancing, Spanish dancing you understand not fancy flamenco. My wonderful nana, Betty, she taught me. In the Monk’s Chest in here hallway (now in my hallway) was an assortment of Spanish treasures, castanets, Spanish dresses, shawls even a mantilla. On our weekend visits my sister and I would unfold the seat of the bench to reveal the mass of lace, fringes, frills and bright colours and with excitement we would layer ourselves in these beauties. Then, gathered in the lounge, nana would raise her arms above her head into a soft but firmly set arch, twist her upper body and tilt her head to one side. Her prodigies would do the same, of a fashion. Nana’s face would set into a passionate, wanting glare which my sister and I would reproduce as pouting lips and wrinkled eyes.  Her foot would then flick up behind her returning quickly to the floor in a stamp, we would follow suit and soon we would all be pounding around clicking our castanets, flouncing our skirts  and shout “Ole”.

Nana was not Spanish, in fact she was half Italian half Irish born in Egypt but she too had been doing Spanish dancing since she was young which made her a perfectly qualified teacher. Here she is in her teens with her handsome matador.

My Spanish dancer also has a matador and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even notice him, so transfixed by her was I.  “She’s part of a pair?” I exclaim head twisting around searching for more ruffles and colours. Above a cupboard stood in the dark is the solemn matador, up there on his own I’m not impressed. He is brought down, dusted down and placed down next to the senorita. Instantly the two speak to each other and I can see these hot blooded lovers belong side by side. Sold and home they come.

It’s not just the subject matter that drew me in but the craftiness, the handmade brilliance of the pictures. Needlepoint tapestry is something I’m yet to try but I’m sure when I do I will love it. The neat little rows of stitches in tonal shades, bright shades, light shades, dark shades which all add depth and contrast to the image, intrigue me. How one tiny stitch with another tiny stitch and another with a little bit of patience creates something so beautiful.

Not entirely sure where they are going to go, maybe in the lounge that I am currently half way through painting, where ever I will need to let the husband see them first. Not braved that one yet.

P.S on the same shopping trip I also bought these…..

An Embroidered Heirloom

My mum asked me to find a piece of embroidery I had from my grandma, Freda. It is a piece she had been working on but not finished before she died. I took up the challenge to continue the work but have to confess that I lost interest, then forgot about, then adopted two children. So it has sat in a draw for some years until the other week when my mum mentioned it.

My mum, like her mum and now myself included, find it difficult to sit in an evening without occupying  our hands. Crocheting, sewing, knitting, needlepoint, or any assortment of crafty activity will do. So the piece in question has been shown the light of day again and  offered  another chance to reach it’s final destination as an embroidered tablecloth. My mum intends to start the work again.

Mum thinks that grandma may have received the piece for a special birthday, around the 1970’s maybe her 60th. I still have the paper stencils which would have been carefully ironed onto the fabric to guide the embroider and some of the embroidery silks. I have however used some for other projects, so an improvisation of new colours will need to be thought out. The stitches used are fairly simple, blanket, back, bullion knots and french knots, however the task is time consuming and requires plenty of patience.

I am excited to see that this piece is to be worked on again and hope that I will also get to improve my contribution. I will keep you informed.




Fashions Added Extras – Embellishment

On a recent shopping trip I couldn’t help but notice that the trend for embellishment is very much in evidence for the Autumn/Winter fashion this year. There are beaded collars, lace panels, encrusted necklines, chained tassels, added extras of all description everywhere.

Although the high end versions shown above are very lavish,  the high street is doing, on the most a subtle version which is very wearable for day and evening. Here are a few of my favourites.

So to keep in with the in crowd I’ve been doing a little bit of embellishment Freda and Me style.


I love a good blouse, there is something so grown up and chic about them. Apparently they originate from peasant dress which doesn’t quite fit with my lady of the manor blouse and pearls idea.

However the Victorians brought separates to woman’s wardrobes and a skirt and blouse became  acceptable  day wear.

From there on in designers and dress makers have conjured variations of this ladies shirt,embellishing with lace, embroidery and beading, The collars have rounded into a 60’s Peter Pan style, sharpened for the 70’s disco look and at times softened  into a kitten bow. Button front or back but I would say usually with a sleeve cuff. The variations are endless. To me the difference between what I consider a ladies shirt or a blouse is that a blouse has a touch of femininity.

My favourite way to wear a blouse is with a good pair of jeans, heels for the evening, pumps or trainers for day. Now I know this is not fashion rocket science but it works and you know what they say, If it ain’t broke…

And any of the following vintage finds available from Freda and Me would rock this look.