Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Dolly Dollop's Colour Swap

Back in February the lovely Claire at Dolly Dollop organised a colour swap with a deadline of posting by the 31st March .... a very important date at Lala Towers as I will be clocking up yet another year.  Today the postie brought an early birthday parcel for me from my swap partner Bridget at Born To Sew and I am absolutely thrilled.  Bridget's chosen colour was blue and with a bit of luck her parcel should be delivered today (that's if she's not under a couple of feet of snow!!) and my colour was green.  These are my lovely goodies

In case I forget who I am .... highly likely given my time of life ;-)

Bridget this is fabulous and you must have been reading my mind as I was thinking that some Lalabibaby bunting would be just perfect for my stall at craft fairs .... I was like a child in a sweetie shop when I opened this and my OH gave me the oddest look .... I've been trying to explain the principle of blog swaps to him and I think he's finally getting it!

Some lovely Rowan yarn to Get Creative with (thinking cap on again) and a pretty hand made card

A very handy pin cushion to attach to my sewing machine .... why didn't I think of that ..... I'm forever cursing when mine gets knocked on the floor or I stab my legs because it's squashed in between my knees!

Something very very tasty for nibbling on (alright scoffing) when I sit down with my crochet hook this evening ....

Somewhere to rest my teapot ..... in my favourite crazy patchwork .... Bridget is obviously a girl after my own heart and uses every last piece of lovely fabric ..... isn't it amazing how a pile of offcuts can be transformed into something so pretty and useful.

Thank you Bridget ..... I am absolutely thrilled and I hope your like yours too x

and a big thanks to Claire for arranging the swap .... she has been a very busy Easter Bunny and has just opened a web shop Patch Fabric & Haberdashery ....  pop over and take a look at all the lovely goodies x

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Taking it easy

Don't know how or what I've done but there is an excruciating pain from my knee to my butt when I am standing or walking around.  This has left me heartbroken because I will have to spend the weekend with my feet up :-)

So I am going to spend my time catching up with blogland mixed with some crochet and sewing.  The OH is going out this afternoon so no sport on the TV (yippee!!) and I will have the power (remote control) to watch whatever slop I want to without raised eyebrows.

I've been intending to blog about two other passions of mine which don't involve needles or thread so today I'll bore you all with my toy china collection.

I think this first started when I was a child many moons ago.  Our local museum has a toy section and I used to stand and stare at a little miniature blue willow tea service and wish that I could have one but the closest I ever got was an imported Japanese one.  These used to be given out at Christmas at the local working men's club to all the girls ..... that place was something else and long demolished to be replaced by a hideous shopping centre.  Not very PC I know but I can still smell the mix of cigarette smoke, beer and the stuff they used to put on the floor to stop the dancing couples from slipping over.  There was no single dancing that I can remember and the music was supplied by local bands.  Anyhow I digress ...... back to the toy china.

These were first made as early as the 1770s but were most popular during Victorian times.  They could only be afforded by wealthy families and were usually miniature versions of the family dinner/tea services for the children of the house to play with in the nursery.  It is amazing that so many have survived and in such wonderful condition.  They were made in other countries but my preference is for the early Staffordshire sets and I just love transferware ..... the detail is fantastic and I never cease to marvel at the potters and painters' skills.  Here are some of my collection

This is a set by the Ridgway factory in Staffordshire and dates to the late Victorian era ... it is called Master Humphrey's Clock and the scenes on each piece depict the story from Charles Dicken's Old Curiosity Shop .... the story is about Little Nell and her grandfather who live in the shop in London and her friend Kit.  On the teapot is Little Nell, the cups have her grandfather sitting by her grave in the churchyard as he can't accept her death and Kit appears on the saucers.

To give an idea of the size of these the teapot stands 6" tall and the cups are just 1.75" tall.

In the background the two little plates are by Dimmock and date to circa 1840 .... the design is called Dimity but these are all I have of this set.  I have managed to acquire over the years the full tea and dinner service in the Humphrey's Clock set .... there is also a dessert service and dressing table set but they are extremely rare ..... I am still kicking myself for not buying two little comports from the dessert service around ten years ago at an antiques fair .... I dithered and decided not to spend my last £20 and I have never seen them since.

This little oriential design set is also by Ridgways and I found this last year in the local charity shop for the princely sum of £1 ... this dates to the early 1900s.

This little trio are from a coffee service ... they are unmarked and I haven't managed to identify the maker but from the shape and type of pottery they will date to circa 1850.  Have you noticed how large the bowl is ..... these are often mistaken for sugar bowls but they are in fact slop or waste bowls.

This set is also by Ridgways and is called Persia .... it dates to circa 1860 and has a lustre finish to the glaze ... I have some teacups, plates and saucers and I'm on the lookout for the teapot.

This is the little spoon rest and it measures just 1.25" long

I will post some more another day when I've done some dusting and taken some more photos!!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

No Strings Challenge ..... first project finished !!!

I was beginning to think that I would never get this finished ..... it has been sitting in my room waiting for the final machining of the layers which I have finally got round to this afternoon.  So now I am pleased to present my No Strings Challenge Quilt

It is single size and the blocks have strips of Laura Ashley fabrics old and new, Cath Kidston florals, pretty ditsy cottons, some fabrics from swaps with the lovely ladies on the SCC forum, the dark green was an M & S shirt that my husband has never worn and the red gingham is from school dresses acquired from charity shops.

The border is Laura Ashley pink gingham check and it is backed with a lovely Egyptian Cotton in white with pale green stripes .... this is part of a Caroline Charles duvet cover which I purchased at a car boot last year (it was unused and still in original packaging).  I am saving the gorgeous floral side for another project.

This was a fantastic way to use up scraps and as somebody who finds it difficult to throw anything away (I had to force myself to bin the scraps from the edges when I trimmed the blocks!!) I must have known deep inside that they would come in useful one day ;-)

I still have loads more strips in other colours waiting to be sewn together and hope to have some more finished items to share soon.

I hope everyone else has enjoyed this challenge as much as I have .... a big thank you to Loft Creations for the inspiration x

Real life takes over again

Boy am I glad to see the end of this week .... it's been one of those when if things can go wrong they will

I started it with some aches and pains and a corking headache but soldiered on as us wimmin do (no time for man flu in this house ;-) 

By Thursday I was feeling better which was just as well as I had two littlies to look after one being grandson Jack whose mum was attending a meeting with her manager and union rep because the manager is being really awkward about her hours when she returns to work after maternity leave.  When she came home at lunchtime we tucked into some scrambled eggs (couldn't be fresher as I only have to go to the bottom of the garden to collect them from our girls).  Jack is 8 months old now so she tried him with just a teaspoon of scramble and within an hour he had a massive allergic reaction ..... he was covered from head to toe in a rash with huge white welts on his face and his little eyes, ears and lips were swelling .... he was rushed immediately to our surgery which is only a couple of minutes away where he was given anti-allergy medication.  The doctor has said that he will be unable to eat any egg until he is seven years old (he should have grown out of it by then apparently) so we've been doing our homework since on what we can and cannot feed him and it is amazing how many things contain egg.

It was a very scary experience for us grown ups and although I have knowledge of allergies through my childcare work I had never seen a reaction first hand but bless him he still managed to smile .... this was taken a couple of hours after the reaction

Later in the day his little hands and feet were swollen but thankfully by the end of the next day it had all disappeared.  He has been suffering with dry skin on his cheeks which has been treated as exczema but now we think this coincided with weaning which started at Christmas and after checking labels not all baby food is egg free so it was probably a milder reaction to just a trace of egg.

So I haven't been a lazy blogger this week it was just real life taking over again. 

I am taking advantage of a child free weekend to finish off some projects and plan some new ones which I will blog about later.

If any of you have experience of egg allergy I would really appreciate any advice you can offer.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

To all mothers past and present on Mothering Sunday

My Nanny Bartlett

Her daughter Rosemarie .... my mum
Me and my mum

I hope you have all had a wonderful Mothering Sunday

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


I've been re-charging my batteries since the weekend .... after a triple grands sleepover I was absolutely pooped and I've now issued a child free request for the remaining weekends of this month!!  Bet I'll cave in, I just can't say no.

I found my Family Tree disc and whilst looking for it came across this lovely little card.  It was hand painted and given to me as a birthday card from my grandparents around 40 years ago.  Isn't she sweet .... the artist was a lady my grandma knew and I think I have another stashed away somewhere in a memory box. 

 I've had to start a bigger memory box to hold all my smaller memory boxes which contain invites to family celebrations, locks of hair, wedding cake decorations, photos, birthday and Christmas cards and loads more which I will have a sort through and post about at a later date.  Do you have a memory box and would you like to share what's inside???  Would love to know.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Another birthday ....

Another birthday at Lala Towers  .... this time it is the turn of my youngest who reaches the grand old age of 22 today. 

She has blossomed from the baby sister

to a rather cheeky Brownie who made this Mother's Day card for me .... as a self confessed clutterholic and hoarder I keep almost everything and cannot bear to throw things like this away

to a lovely pair of grown up sisters

and of course she is a mother herself to my two little beauties

Have a great day Jess and hope you had a great night last night .... I'm hoping to catch up on my sleep later after having a triple sleepover last night with all three grands

Friday, 5 March 2010

The Very Hungry Caterpillar .... thank you Eric Carle

Yesterday was World Book Day and today is the day our primary school has allowed the children to go in as their favourite book characters.  There were some wonderful sights to see ...... Harry Potter, Dobbie, Mr Bump, Mrs Wobble, Matilda and Where's Wally and a very special Hungry Caterpillar

We cheated a little with a bought suit from Asda but I made the butterfly wings yesterday from some wire which I covered in a lovely silky rainbow stripe fabric from Hobbycraft finished with some circles of glitter on PVA.  I had a brainwave this morning and started rummaging through my play food box so that Ellie can tell the story (which she knows off by heart as most 5 year olds do). 

Thank you Mr Carle for such a wonderful book which celebrated its 40th birthday last year .... unbelievable !!

I also have a copy of The Very Lonely Firefly which the children love too.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Catching up

Well would you believe it ..... three whole days of this

and hasn't it put a spring in the step and just the simple pleasure of being able to peg washing outside on the line and putting the clothes horse down (it seems to have been a permanent fixture for months) has made me so much happier.  I am not a winter person and long for lighter days .... the cold I can cope with but not dark mornings and evenings.

With the children back at school and OH back at work after six months of sick leave I am finally getting a couple of hours to myself every day.  I've been out for a wander around the shops in Hitchin, visited the Barton Watermill Shopping Village for a browse and lunch and yesterday went to Laura Ashley and Dunelm to look for some bedding and fabric for my daughter's bedroom.  She hasn't inherited my passion for thrifting and looks at me as though I've gone mad when I suggest budget alternatives.

I've also been catching up with UFOs ..... my vintage fabric quilts are now complete and ready for sale .... I am hoping to take them along to a craft fair in a month or two when I have a couple more completed. 

I've been going round in circles again with some crochet cushion covers

I've also received some lovely orders for alphabet cushions and will be finishing another tomorrow morning.

The no strings project is coming along nicely and is now ready for edging and backing.

and this little knitted bobble tea cosy is finally finished too

It's World Book Day tomorrow but our primary for reasons only known to them have decided that the children will be dressing up as their favourite book character on Friday.  My Ellie has decided that she wants to go as the Hungry Caterpillar so another project for tomorrow is to make her some butterfly wings ... the wire is already shaped and I just need to dress it with some lovely fabric.

It's also my first born's birthday tomorrow ..... where did the last 28 years go ????  I will be reminiscing more about this tomorrow.

Enjoy the sunshine if you are lucky enough to get some x