Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Spring Sunshine

I returned home on Sunday from my month long work trip to Lancaster, and was greeted by the Spring sunshine. I've always said that I think Bath is one of the sunniest places in Britain and whilst I know this isn't technically true, I think the buttery Bath stone buildings reflect the sunlight in a way that makes the city shine brighter than most other places. Having grown up in the rainy North, it's one of the reasons I wanted to move here.

On our way South, Mr Biddle and I stopped off at Ikea in Wednesbury for a dose of Swedish meat balls and to pick up some garden furniture and a summer duvet. I blooming love Ikea. I know for many people it is the epitome of hell but I've been going there since I was little and I love nothing more than a couple of hours mooch about.

So on my first day of maternity, Mr Biddle put up all the garden furniture whilst I relaxed in the sun with a (very small) glass of wine, and then we headed to our local garden antiques centre on the London Road to pick up some colourful plants for the garden.

We found some lovely terracotta pots lurking behind our garden shed and Mr B planted them up.

Then we displayed them in the vintage strawberry tray which we picked up for the bargain sum of £8. Don't they look pretty? We also planted some poppy, marigold and sunflower seeds in other parts of the garden ready for the summer months. It's lovely to think that by the time they flower, we'll have a little rascal to sit out in the garden with.

Monday, 28 March 2011

An heirloom cushion

On a previous post, I shared with you some embroidery that I was given that had been created by Mr Biddle's relatives. I wanted to turn one of the most beautiful pieces into a little cushion for Mr B's cousin and here is the outcome of my efforts.

This vivid piece was on an uneven scrap of cotton so I carefully squared it up and ironed it, before sewing onto the blue polka dot background with pale blue thread. I think the blue works nicely with the embroidery, highlighting the tiny blue flowers and providing a good contrast to the beige cotton.

I used a plain piece of cream cotton for the back of the cushion, to keep it simple and leave the focus on the incredible handiwork of the front. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and I know that Cousin Biddle was chuffed with her package too.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Mollie Makes Magazine Coming Soon

I was very excited to discover through an internet search that there will soon be another lovely UK fabric craft magazine hitting the shelves. Mollie Makes will come out monthly, and is created & published by Bath based specialist publishers Future.

The first issue comes out on May 12th priced at £4.99, with versions available for ipads and other technical gadgets.

The editor, Joanna Heptinstall, says of the magazine: "Today's crafters are creating a whole new aesthetic which is inspired by vintage, love of all things handmade, and showing off their individual style. They are crafting socially in cafes and clubs, and they are sharing their ideas globally, using the internet as a giant poster. This is why Mollie Makes is so much more than a traditional project book - it is a lifestyle magazine for the generation who make up the handmade revolution." 

Well, dear readers, doesn't that sound just up our street!? I'll waddle around Bath in May in order to hunt a copy down and report back on it then.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

April dates for your diaries

If, like me, your home is in the South West, here are some dates for your diaries of upcoming fairs, markets and fleas to get you in the vintage mood for Spring and Summer.

Artisan Market, Frome

Running from April until October, on the first Sunday of every month, this artisan market takes place on the cobbles of the brilliant, boutique filled St Catherine's Hill. I'm looking forward to attending the first one of the year on Sunday 3rd April from 10am until 2pm.

The Original Vintage and Homemade Fair 

The next one takes place at Chipping Sodbury Town Hall on Saturday 9th April from 10 until 4pm. I went to the one before Christmas and it was superb - loads of gorgeous stalls and my friend and I came away with loads of things. It's a fair full of things one actually wants to buy. My blog about the last one can be read here.

Shepton Mallet Giant Flea and Collectors Market

Images from www.sheptonflea.com
Held seven times throughout the year, this mammoth Flea Market takes place at the Royal Bath and West Showground with over 200 stalls. The next one takes place on Sunday 24th April from 9.30am until 4pm, and costs £3 per adult to enter.

If you can't make the Vintage and Handmade Fair, nip along to the Vintage Bazaar on Saturday 30th April where many of the same stallholders will be displaying their wares at the Cheese and Grain in Frome. Lasting from 9am until 3pm, it costs £1 to enter.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Homemade at The Dukes

Yesterday I popped down to the buzzing Dukes Theatre in Lancaster to have a gander at their first ever craft fair. If you're not familiar with Lancaster, The Dukes combines three performance spaces, an art house cinema and a gallery, along with a bar serving locally produced food and cakes. It's a thriving hub for the city and I'm delighted that I get to spend quite a bit of time there through my work.

The Homemade event had a small selection of craft stalls, as well as stands run by the Wardrobe and Stage Management departments, so you could pick up clothes and objects that had once featured in a Dukes production. My favourites stalls were:

Little Lost Soul. Lucy Pass is a Lancaster based visual artist, specialising in paintings but also doing a mean sideline in greetings cards and weirdly wonderful stuffed toys. I picked up a couple of her cards as I just loved the phrases on them.

Amalthea Gormet. The alter-ego of the theatre's scenic artist Georgina, Amalthea create the most delicious handmade greek food. I picked up chocolate covered baklava and some unusual turkish delight-style sweet treats to share with my girlfriends.

The Dukes is also presenting a craft themed installation from March 22nd until April 17th called l.ttle bird by artist Georgia Rusch.

Crafty members of the public are being asked to create a 3D bird of around 15cm in size to be added to the installation before being sold to raise money for the charity Women for Women International. If you fancy making a bird sculpture, it can be created in any medium and delivered to The Dukes reception (The Dukes Theatre, Moor Lane, Lancaster, LA1 1QE) - there's an example template for inspiration if you click here.

Friday, 11 March 2011

A Gentle Art

One of the great things about living in Bath is that lots of friends actually want to come and visit - not just to see me and Mr B, but also because Bath is such a fantastic place for a city break. So recently, my fabulous friend Miss Lawton came to stay with her adorable Mum for a spot of shopping, eating and pampering in the Spa.

The Lawton ladies are also keen crafters and Mrs Lawton brought me a copy of this gorgeous book, The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making by Jane Brocket. Isn't that a lovely description of sewing - a 'gentle art'. I couldn't agree more.

The book contains an inspiring array of 15 different quilt patterns. My favourite ones are as follows and I'm keen to try both of them out very soon, perhaps once I start my maternity leave.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Cotton Candy

In a forgotten shortbread tin, in the back of a cupboard, I discovered this tiny treasure trove of cotton thread.

What exquisite colours. And the quality of the thread is every quilters dream. 100% cotton, strong and sturdy. And I just love the names of the colours.

Mid Sage ... Light Old Gold ... Saxe Blue ... Light Cornflower ... Pale Rose ... Napoleon ... Wisteria ... Spring Green ... and my personal favourite, Gay Kingfisher. Looking at them is like a little snapshot of being a forties housewife.