Something for the Weekend

Yes, dear friends, you will definitely know when it’s time for tea with this hilariously cute teapot ring by Purple Shmurple (love that name).

Purple Shmurple makes individual jewellery with a natural theme and a vintage feel from materials such as wood, acrylic and glass. Trust me, there are some strange and wonderful items to be found in the folksy shop. Have a gander!


A Life in the Week

This week my son Charlie had his plaster cast removed and he returned to school, albeit part time until he fully recovers. He walks with a temporary limp, which is heartbreaking and comical in equal measure. After his first day back, he was sent home with some artwork he had created before his accident, including a Valentine’s Day card for me.

This is probably the most belated Valentine’s I have ever received but it was lovely nonetheless as in a funny way it felt like Charlie was saying thank you for looking after him these last few weeks. And, it just goes to prove that some things are worth the wait and are appreciated all the more for it.

As you know, I’m all for blogging and love reading other people’s too. So I was really pleased when a friend of mine lent me a book all about it.

Circus is a book or ‘Bookazine’ as the compiler terms it, showcasing some of the most interesting blogs from around the world. This first edition focused on fashion so it was right up my street. The content is quite diverse and while I’ve been perusing it this week, it has occurred to me that it’s perhaps odd to be reading a book about blogs. I’m quite clear about whether I’m reading a hard copy of something or a digital version, both of which I like for different reasons. I still love to snuggle down with a book or magazine in all the places I can’t with a computer but I also love the variety and immediacy of reading stuff online. Anyway, take a look at a few sample pages and see what you think.

This week I decided I needed a bit of a change so I went to the hairdressers and had a good few inches chopped. It’s amazing how it can literally lighten the way you feel (and your wallet) but it was worth it I guess. An even quicker and far more affordable pick-me-up was gained at my local charity shop (which is fast becoming my second home). Sometimes you can wander round and not spy a thing that you fancy, other days it feels like you’re on a winning streak. Friday was one of those days. Within five minutes I had spotted a pair of Topshop shorts, an M&S wool jumper and a Per Una scarf; a new outfit in the bag and all for the princely sum of £8!!

And here’s the ‘new’ me, feeling rather pleased with myself.

Oh, and in case you think it’s been a whirl of self-indulgence this week (fat chance) then here’s a link to the new Spring issue of UK Handmade magazine, where you can read an article I wrote all about guerilla gardening.


Something for the Weekend

Twitter is a wonderful thing isn’t it? Well in case you’re in any doubt, here’s one example of why I love tweeting anyway. I follow all sorts of people on twitter, many of whom are crafty or creative types. Above all I like to follow people who are interesting, inspiring and (importantly) chatty.
One such tweeter is Sarah Fitton aka Ditsy Bird Designs who paints bold, fun canvases for children. But I didn’t know that Sarah is also an all-round crafter or as she puts it, “likes messing about with paper, fabric, beads and thread”. So one night I was casually scanning through my twitter timeline when a particular tweet of hers jumped out at me. She mentioned the word ‘teapot’ and well you can imagine the rest. 
 But really, how cute is little hand-beaded teapot brooch?

There are lots more like this in different colourways plus handmade cards, stitched items as well as bright, bold canvases.You can also read about what’s happening in the Ditsy Bird nest on Sarah’s blog.


Children’s book illustration

I recently posted about a fab children’s book called Spot it!

This got me thinking about other books on my kids’ bookshelf that I really enjoy, purely and simply because they have been illustrated so well. So here’s my round-up of the best illustrated children’s story books. There are some classics in there that I’m sure you’re already aware of (but deserve a shout out) and maybe some less familiar. The list is by no means exhaustive, so please feel free to add to it by telling me about your own personal favourites. I’m always on the look out for beautiful and fun books for my kids to enjoy myself.

First up is the wonderful Eric Carle of The Hungry Caterpillar fame, which is a great classic. Look out for other books by him such as this poetry book I picked up at a car boot sale. Some of the poems are really bonkers but I just love the illustrations!

Next up is The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr. Another classic from the seventies, Ive always found the story a little odd, but again the illustrations are gloriously retro and anyway it has a tiger in it so my son Charlie loves it.

Next is a book called Little Beauty by Anthony Browne. It’s about the special friendship between a gorilla and a kitten (another slightly odd premise) but we were gifted this book for Charlie and it was a nice surprise to find such unusual illustrations in it. Again, there’s quite a seventies vibe going on here with the crazy wallpaper!

My next favourite is a real classic. Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins is often used in primary schools because the simple, repetitive story is really clear for little kids. I just think the style of illustration is amazing and is redolent of some of the best graphic design from the last century. Oh and the fact that the fox gets completely trounced by the wonderfully oblivious chicken is great.

The story of the old woman who swallowed a fly and then continues to eat more animals until she dies is really a quite scary and disgusting idea for a children’s story, which is probably why it appeals to them so much. As for me, well the bold, colourful, retro illustrations speak for themselves.

But what about the classics of tomorrow? One book I discovered in a charity shop recently was a real find and I bought it mainly because of the graphic design style. It’s called Mythical Monsters by Sara Fanelli and Charlie loves it! It’s not a story as such, more of an educational book that brings the likes of Cyclops and the Minotaur to life with brief descriptions. I love the collage style of the illustrations that makes the monsters scary yet friendly at the same time.

And I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning Lauren Child’s wonderful creation of Charlie and Lola. I think this brother and sister duo are brilliant but are now so ubiquitous on TV and spin-off merchandising it’s easy to forget how new and exciting the original books were. Lauren Child’s style is fun yet offbeat and I love the textures and colours she uses. More recent examples include her lovely illustration of the Pippi Longstocking stories.

What are your favourite illustrated children’s books and which do you think are modern classics?


A life in the week

Would you like to know what I’ve been up to this week? Yes? Same here! These days it seems like the weeks fly by so fast, they sometimes blur into one. So while this blog is as much for you, dear reader, as it is for me I’ve decided to try and create a weekly round-up to remind myself of all the good (and maybe not so good) things that have made my week what it was. I warn you now, it won’t be earth-shatteringly interesting, just my life, in one week.

It feels like spring is finally here and it’s nice to bring a bit of it indoors. I love Tulips, they’re my favourite flower (I had them in my bridal bouquet and, in a moment of madness that I now blame on hormones, I briefly considered naming my daughter Tulip!).

It’s also been half term this week (for those of us that have kids). Except it feels like my four year old son Charlie has been on holiday for the last month as he has been laid up with a broken leg. He’s nearly better though and eager for some excitement. This week we decorated his plaster cast by drawing animals on it (at his behest) and took him to the park to blow away the cobwebs.

This week I was kindly sent a book from British Crafts called The Book of Forgotten Crafts, published by David & Charles Ltd. Written by Paul Felix, Sian Ellis and Tom Quinn, the book seeks to keep the old craft traditions alive and as well as some of the well-known crafts there’s also some more obscure ones including skep-making, clog-making and rhubarb forcer-making. It’s a book that I think would appeal to both men and women as there’s a few crafts in there that I reckon blokes would love to get into – bagpipe-making anyone??

On Thursday, we decided to be home tourists and go to Ilkley for the day. It’s a lovely town with vibrant streets and plenty of independent shops, restaurants and bars as well as some well-known names such as Betty’s tearooms. The charity shops in Ilkley are also mighty fine and I really wanted to check out a great shop called Cakewalk which sells vintage and retro pieces while also showcasing designer-makers from all around the region.

Cakewalk, Ilkley
Victorian Arcade, Ilkley

Clocks on display in White Stuff, Ilkley

We had a gorgeous walk down by the river and a great lunch at a place called Smooth. I managed to pick up some craft supplies so that I can get creative and carry on with some of the jewellery-making techniques I learned last week. I also bought some lovely wool in a great Parma Violet colour, which will be knitted into something very cute by my talented mum (she’s a ferocious knitter and creates the most amazing garments for my kids – see below).

This afternoon we were invited with the kids to have a play and some tea at a friend’s house. The kids played and the adults drank tea and ate cake. Earlier today I got my button stash out and decided to make a brooch in my friend’s favourite colours by way of a small thank you for the invite. Here’s the result. I think everyone I know is now going to end up with a button brooch! Bye for now, Kathryn x