country living christmas fair - and whinberry & antler

so i went to the country living christmas fair last weekend. having been to the spring fair once and put off for life (the crowds! it was hideous) i don't know why i decided to try this one but i think i was seduced by the word 'christmas'. for once, i'm trying to be organised about christmas, and so far, succeeding (smug). i've already made a christmas cake and everything.

the fair wasn't as bad as i feared (i got there really early, so missed most of the crush), though like all such things there was a fair amount of tat. but i discovered a few really nice designers/shops, such as mary kilvert, a somerset-based illustrator and designer, and my new favourite... whinberry & antler

beautifully drawn and hand-printed items, including tea towels, cushions, aprons and other bits - all inspired by the english countryside (and made there too - the linen is from yorkshire, and the lavender in the lavender bags is grown in shropshire). i bought the fox tea towel, a hedgehog bag and i'm so going to order this badger lampshade

i've become a bit obsessed with woodland creatures. i also bought these napkin rings from the glover & smith stand (photographs from their website - i'm not overly a brown velour type of person) they also had some really lovely knives and bowls but by this point i'd spent too much so i forced myself to walk away


hello again

print from etsy

so, where was i?

i can't believe the end of the year is fast approaching. it's been a strange year. some bad family stuff happened, which meant my interest and enthusiasm for writing about pretty things all but vanished (and i haven't really done anything crafty or homely for ages). but nothing is ever wholly bad - it has meant i've spent more time with my family in the last few months than i have in probably the whole of the last 10 years put together. it's also spurred on some changes that we had been planning to make for some time but always put off because there's always a tomorrow, right?

we're - hopefully - about to sell up and leave london for the seaside (i'm hardly daring to write that, because it's been going on for months, though we're nearing the finish line now). oh, and i'm having a baby. so we're dealing with pretty much all the most stressful life events in one go, but a thorough shake-up every now and then is very welcome. because change and uncertainty is usually where all the interesting stuff happens.


imogen owen letterpress

my friend imogen owen, an illustrator, only started her letterpress company earlier this year but in just a couple of months, she has already had orders from some of the loveliest independent shops in the country and was even commissioned by white stuff to do some letterpress work for them (she was also chosen as one of the best exhibitors at the recent top drawer show)!

hardly surprising though because her work is really fantastic - inspired by nature quite a bit, with beautiful hand-lettering and a thoughtful palette, they're delightful without being too twee.

i went to have a look at her studio yesterday, which she shares with her glorious 1940s autovic printer and dog pip, and where she comes up with her designs for greetings cards and stationery.

and here are some of her cards...

lovely aren't they!

for all your stalking needs, imogen has a great blog and a facebook page too.


baby name cross-stitch

i made this for a friend's baby, even though he was born months and months ago - my projects always take ages, mainly because i get bored easily so i have to have several things on the go at once rather than concentrating on just one thing and getting it done in a reasonable amount of time. but finally, it's finished!

i found the pattern for the letters online, but i can't find the link anywhere now, annoyingly. i love cross-stitch. it's slightly mindless and doesn't require a great deal of concentration, so i find it really relaxing. also with counted cross-stitch, someone a bit messy and slapdash (like me) can produce something really quite neat.

glorious mishmash of colours, spotted on pinterest
antique samplers, often made by small victorian hands, are beautiful, but a lot of modern cross-stitch can be a bit nauseatingly twee (hearts and teddy bears and flowers - and portraits of princess diana. yukka yukka). but there are so many people doing a more irony-laden take on it, such as subversive cross-stitch for fans of potty-mouthed craft, and mr x. i really like the work of kate westerholt:

and a few more from around the web by other people:

il blog di emma
craft gossip
spotted on pinterest, but originally from here


happy valentine's day

i like valentine's day - despite all that horrid commercialism - in the same way i love pancake day and easter and every other excuse for a bit of a celebration. obviously you should make the person you love feel cherished every day* (it is also imperative that you eat pancakes all year round) but mostly i think valentine's day should not be taken too seriously, and it's nice to join in, isn't it? i don't think it's just for couples either. one of the best valentine's cards i ever received was a homemade one from my sister when i was single.

anyway, i picked some pictures up in a junk shop, thinking i might start collecting vintage wedding day portraits (this was before i decided that what i needed to do, in fact, was declutter and not begin new collections). annoyingly, here are just two. i'm sure i bought quite a few - if i find them, i'll post them.

i love how smart and proud the men look, and the women's dresses are beautiful. and those bouquets are huge! i much prefer these to the restrained posies people seem to go for now, even though they must have required months of weight training in order to carry them. mainly i like how happy they look. i have no idea who they are, but i hope their lives were filled with love. as i hope yours is too. 

*maybe i don't, always, even though i constantly think about how lucky i am to have my lovely boyfriend. he is away at the moment, so the cat is getting all my valentine's love this year. this will mainly be in the form of dreamies (cat treats; he is addicted). 


pancake day

this is so true. i love pancake day. it's one of my favourite days in all the year (even though i definitely don't just eat pancakes once a year). strangely, i picked up this recipe from the british children's tv presenter andi peters - his name will mean a lot to people of a certain age - who put it on twitter this morning. and i have to say, it's the best pancake recipe i've ever tried. and it's very easy to remember!

1,2,3: 100g flour, 2 eggs, 300ml milk

i added a bit of water instead of all the milk, a pinch of salt, and a knob of melted butter.

pancakes with spinach, mushrooms, swiss chard, and a spoonful of yoghurt for dinner; with lemon juice and sugar for pudding.

the print above is by amanda catherine designs, who has an etsy shop. i think her prints are wonderful, and to the absolute, perfect point. this one might be my favourite:


the beginnings of a crochet blanket

i seem to have spent most of january hibernating, which in my world basically means eating, watching box sets and doing something with my hands - in this case crochet. i find it easy enough to knock out a few of these squares while watching a couple of episodes of something without subtitles (not so good for settling down to the killing, but a nice accompaniment to game of thrones and deadwood). getting them to be all the same size is proving a little trickier though.

this blanket is inspired by this one i saw made by yvonne at yvestown.

i still don't know how big i will make mine. until i get bored of making squares i suppose. i think i have about 100 more squares to go!