Monthly Archives: March 2012

In praise of the daffodil

I’ve always underrated the humble daffodil, pushing it aside for its posh springtime cousin the tulip, or even the positively exotic hyacinth. I was so misguided. There’s nothing so cheery as these bright yellow blooms in the days when spring sunshine is still a novelty. Now I love them and am in awe of how a bunch of supermarket-bought, dull green, elastic-banded stems can open into such flamboyant flowers.

Maybe I just took daffodils for granted as they seemed to grow like wild flowers in the garden of my childhood home. Clearly the previous owner had worked very hard but my trusting childhood view was that they were just natural. We had the most amazing garden. Every child should be so lucky to have the quarter of a acre we had for adventures. Near the house was the formal, grown up stuff like a patio and rose beds but if you kept walking (or galloping if you were on your imaginary pony) things got much more interesting.

There was a very small hill half way down the garden, always covered in a huge number of daffodils in early spring. Brought up with a healthy imagination for buried treasure and smugglers’ caves, this mound was always the subject of much speculation. What could possibly lie beneath? At the very least it might have been an old air raid shelter. Eventually curiosity got the better of my dad and he borrowed a metal detector to find out more. My brother and I looked on, breath held and hearts beating fast. The machine beeped! And then beeped several times more. Out came the spade and an exploratory hole was dug between the daffodils. (This operation must have been carried out my mum wasn’t looking as she had a passion for the daffs and always filled the house with beautiful arrangements). And there it was, a pile of old metal guttering, several down pipes and two disappointed children. I expect my dad was disappointed too but probably relieved that he didn’t have two over-excited children squealing for daddy to make an old shelter into a den for them. The mystery mound must have been a heap of builders’ rubbish that was too much trouble to take away. My family moved away from that house over 25 years ago, so I wonder if the garden is still the same. I hope other children have enjoyed wondering about buried treasure.

This year the daffodils seem more welcome than ever. I’ve bought a few bunches in the last couple of weeks and even enjoyed admiring banks of them in nearby Victoria Park. (How lucky can a girl get, living so close to the Royal Crescent in Bath?) I got carried away with the quantity I bought  yesterday. So much so that I had enough tightly budded booms to set aside for a second vase. Flowers for the bedroom, the ultimate luxury! I may be imagining things but I think they actually make a small popping sound as they unfurl. I heard the unfamiliar sound twice in the night and sure enough two of the buds were starting to open when I woke up this morning. Even if I have imagined it, I love the idea that flowers make a sound with the effort of opening.

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Mollie Makes mouse winner!

A little later than promised but here it is, the winner of my little mouse kit giveaway. Congratulations to Susan (aka The 4 o’clock Angel), who left this comment:

“I would love to be considered for your mouse kit as we have some of the real ones that torment me at night, hence why I have called myself  The 4 o’clock Angel and having some of your lovely ones might help me to forgive the ones we have. i swear that they wear clogs!!!”

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to leave me a comment. I’ve really enjoyed reading them all.

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Welcome to the Mollie Makes bunny blog hop!

Isn’t it strange the way the same theme keeps popping into your head? Right now it seems I have bunnies on the brain. I’ve just embroidered this hoppy chap, which will be made in a little stuffed shape along with lots of farm animal friends (from Charlotte Lyons’ Maggie’s Farm pattern). It’s a long overdue present for a small friend of mine. It was intended as a Christmas gift and here I am almost three months later hoping she doesn’t grow out of such things before I finish the set.

Stitching this bunny gift for a little one stared me thinking about one of my favourite childhood books, The Velvetine Rabbit by Margery Williams. It’s the beautifully told tale of how a tatty toy rabbit becomes real. If it isn’t already on your bookshelf, please do get a copy. You will need to get a hanky too – I can feel myself welling up just thinking about the story. You’re perfectly safe though, it does have a happy ending. I don’t know what became of my childhood copy, so I bought a new one last year and have it ready for when the small people in my life are old enough to appreciate having it read to them.

The warmer weather makes me feel like spring is finally on its way and I’m celebrating with a big vase of daffodils. I’ve also rooted out this little rabbit display dish. For many years it lived in a dark cabinet in the hall at my grandparent’s house. I used to peer at it behind glass but was never allowed to touch. When it came to the sad business of clearing the house after my grandparents died, I couldn’t resist giving it a home. My mum describes it as a primrose vase but to me these flowers just aren’t meant to be picked for indoor displays. Here it is with tiny ‘tete-a-tete’ narcissus instead. The little dish of flowers is filling my whole living room with the scent of spring. Perfect!

My final bunny comes in the form of Mollie Makes’ Easter bunny blog hop. To celebrate the publication of spring-inspired issue 12, the team are giving away an amazing felted rabbit fascinator, courtesy of Helen at From the Wilde. Now that’s what I call an Easter bonnet! If you’re already part of the hop, you’ll know that you need to count the number of rabbits you see in this post and hop on to the next blog – visit the lovely Lara’s Sunday Best. If you’re new to the blog hop, you can get started right here.

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Rosie’s perfect patchwork

My name is Jenny, and I’m a house show addict. There, I’ve admitted it. From ‘Grand Designs’ to ‘Location, location, location’, I just can’t resist seeing inside other people’s homes and listening to the way they want to live. When it came to hunting for my own flat, I did have a requirement that I’ve never heard anyone put to Kirstie and Phil – I needed a room large enough to layer up a full-size patchwork quilt. I’ve not actually made that many quilts in my life but my crafting ambitions are always uppermost in my mind. I’d already conceded that my budget wouldn’t stretch to a separate craft room, so this seemed a modest request. You’ll be please to hear that I got my wish and, with the furniture pushed to the edges of the living room, there’s just about space to construct a king-size quilt.

This weekend my quilt zone has come into it’s own as I layered up a beautiful quilt made by my friend Rosie. (Her ‘quilt zone’ is filled by two small children, so I offered to lend a hand.) I’m thrilled to have any part in this amazing creation. I first saw it around two years ago when Rosie came over for a sewing afternoon. I was soon distracted from the needlepoint I intended to do when she tipped a collection of patchwork squares on to the floor. It was her very first quilt. Not content with simple squares or maybe hexagons, she’d embarked on an ambitous foundation-pieced log cabin number. My quilts have always been very planned affairs with all the fabric bought up front. Rosie’s is what I’d call a proper quilt. She developed each block over time, using favourite fabrics from her stash, little treats from lunch hour shopping and even some pieces of her partner’s old shirt. It really is magical.

I smoothed out the lovely 30s-style floral backing fabric, put a layer of wadding on top and finally added the log cabin patchwork. Something amazing happens when you layer up a quilt, it really does come to life.  I spent an evening tacking it all together, so now it’s ready to give back to Rosie to have her first go at hand quilting. It’s currently folded over the arm of my sofa and it’s just so lovely that I have to stroke it every time I come into the room. I’m really going to struggle to return it to its rightful owner!

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Guerilla crafting?

I’ve discovered a new coffee shop in Bath, an independent which makes a nice change. It’s based in a wonderfully wonky collection of rooms in an old Georgian house near the abbey – the kind of place I immediately start redesigning in my mind to see where I’d place my furniture. It’s called Jacobs but hush, keep it to yourself or I won’t be able to get a seat the next time I need a lunchtime gossip with a friend. (If you do find yourself nearby, sample the lumberjack cake and order a frothy hot drink so you can admire the artistry of the patterns they work into the foam.)

Up a windy staircase, my favourite little room still has the old fireplace flanked by bookshelves which sink deep into the amazingly thick walls. On the shelves there are old books, games, vintage china and a curiosity. I’ve had my eye on this strange creature for a while trying to make my mind up exactly what it is. It has a plump linen body and four dangly limbs. Then last week I noticed it had a friend and things made much more sense. The larger friend has antlers, so I’m thinking ‘moose’ or maybe a reindeer that failed to make it back into the Christmas decorations box.

Now, I know I’m a little strange but I even surprised myself when I started to feel sorry for the poor antler-less creature on the shelf. What had happened to his headgear? Does he live a jealous life in the shadow of his friend’s large antlers?

Today I turned craft guerilla. I whipped up a pair of felt antlers, popped them in my handbag and headed out for a chai latte. Once installed in the café, I had to pick my moment. It took an age for the room to empty, then I had to move quickly to safety pin the new antlers to the mini moose’s head. It was done in a flash and there he sat on his shelf with his bold new headgear.

Have I advanced the cause of guerilla crafting? Have I lost my marbles? You decide. The one thing I do know is that this little adventure made me smile more than anything else this week.

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