Sophie Robinson's Colour Workshop

A year ago in March, I booked myself onto a one day Colour Workshop run by the friendly, knowledgeable and infectiously enthusiastic Sophie Robinson (See Sophie's blog post from 10th March 2017). The day was all about colour - finding your unique colour palette, playing around with colour combinations and creating mood boards (my favourite hobby) and immersing ourselves in Sophie’s passion for all things colourful, through a feast of interiors images, learning about colour theory (and how to bend the rules) and a brief look at seasonal colour psychology.

It was a cosy intimate affair and we all had our different reasons for wanting to play around with colour. Some people wanted to feel more confident about decorating with colour in their own homes and move away from the white and beige walls that surrounded them. Others wanted to inject some colour into their interior based work lives. I was (and still am) at the stage of wanting to return to work after seven years of looking after my daughter.

It’s only since becoming a Mum that it’s become clear to me that I want to go down the stylist route, in fact, that I should have done this a long time ago. I have been making interior mood boards since I was old enough to ‘cut and stick’. (I still have a whole load of boards I did in the mid nineties. Given the fashion for all things late eighties to early nineties, they’ll be back in fashion soon)! 

So I did the course to get the juices flowing and give me the confidence to believe in my ‘visual eye’. My Dad has since passed away and he was such a believer in me, that I’m determined to do something creative.

Here are some photos of my mood boards in response to the day. I put together the first Navy and Copper mood board on the course. When I got home, I was on a roll, so I made a list of words associated with my mood board and picked out colours from my Pantone postcards. I think I must have fallen into the Zeitgeist without knowing it, as there were a lot of deep blue and metallic colour schemes floating around the following Christmas.

Sophie talked briefly about Fiona Humberstone’s Seasonal Colour Psychology that Fiona (aka The Brand Stylist) writes about in her book ‘How to Style your Brand’. My mood board fell into the Autumn camp and I have just made two more mood boards based on the colours from my original board. I am seriously thinking of decorating our downstairs based on one of these boards! They make me very happy. I think I fit the Autumn personality best, but I love to do mood boards for all the seasons. As anyone following me on Instagram will know, I've gone very Spring at the moment!

My next mood board is going to be a response to Pantone’s colour of the year ‘Ultra Violet’. Funnily enough, when I was writing a blog post in September about blackberry picking, plums, and all things purple, I thought about doing an interior mood board using these Autumn fruit colours. I thought this might be a nice challenge, especially as purple is a colour you don’t see very often in people’s homes. 

You can read all about the Autumn Personality and the other three season personalities and styles on Sophie’s blog - she has just produced four room schemes for Habitat based around each season - and decide which personality you are. Sophie runs Colour Workshops in Brighton and London and also a Colour Psychology Course for creatives with Fiona Humberstone The Brand Stylist.

Christmas Crafting

Every year in January, I vow that next Christmas I'm going to make all my cards, presents, decorations, etc,  but when it comes to it, I can't face making Christmas things in September, (which is what I would need to do in order to get everything done). Consequently I leave everything to the last minute and run out of time, so have to resort to shop bought items. 

Having said that, tomorrow is 'Elf on the Twelfth' day at schools, when kids dress up as an elf to raise money for a chosen charity and I am reminded of the costume I made for my daughter a few years ago.

I also made her a Christmas stocking and crazily made an advent calendar last year despite being ill.  So here are the photos of what I have achieved!

 

I really enjoyed making this costume, although I used some stuffing I had to hand, for the edges of the dress, which was a nightmare to sew over as it kept getting tangled around the sewing machine foot - will only be using it for its intended purpose from now on! I made the felt boots to go on top of a pair of shoes, held on with elastic underneath and red pompoms for the bells. An old black T-shirt was cut up for the belt (there's always an old T-shirt involved) and lots of double sided sticky tape was used to hold everything in place. I was very pleased with the result, although my daughter was told by a fellow pupil that elves only wear red and green so her hat was the wrong colour. Kids learn stereotypes very early on!

Goodness knows what I was thinking when I made my daughter's stocking so big. She was more than happy though and thinks Father Christmas is great, whereas I'm rubbish and never get her anything, grr.

When I was a child, I put a pillowcase at the end of my bed and, with my mum being German, I had a continental sized pillow case, so I did pretty well too!

I made this stocking out of an old felt table protector we know longer used, which is made of fairly sturdy fabric and is also slightly fluffy which is nice for something christmassy.

Lastly, I made this rather mad eye-popping advent calendar. I had bought some neon sticky backed plastic, for no particular purpose, from a Homebase that was closing down. I decided to use it for this project, making tags in bauble and Christmas tree shapes and covering an old coat hanger in matching ribbon. My Christmases are always very neutral and natural, so this was somewhat of a departure. I was obviously craving some colour in my life at the time!

My daughter's jaw dropped when she saw it. She was used to the good old fashion picture advent calendars where you have to guess what is behind the next door, normally very exciting. Making this one, stuffed with sugary goodies, could have set a precedent, but after so much chocolate at Halloween and Christmas last year, I decided not to make another chocolate advent calendar this year, which was (eventually) graciously accepted. This was helped by the fact that my daughter made one for her Dad, so she looks forward, each morning, to opening their advent calendars together. A nice experience of giving rather than just getting.

Anyway, there will be treats a plenty at Christmas itself. Time now to start on writing those (shop bought) Christmas cards. I wish you all a very peaceful and happy Christmas. Here's to a productive new year!

Vintage Autumn Illustrations

I've picked out some more images from my old German A-Z picture book, 'Mein Erster Brockhaus', this time with an Autumn theme. No doubt, if you've got kids, you've been hunting for conkers or better still, for sweet chestnuts that you can actually eat. And those of you lucky enough, will be picking apples from your tree and making delicious puddings with them.

Some of the things in this book, just wouldn't be included in a kids A-Z picture book these days, like the hunter below with a gun. I find it funny looking through the book and finding 'graveyard, devil, gun, whip, penknife, cigar, cigarette, pipe and matches. But they're amongst lots of sweet stuff too!

Beginning Crochet

I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions, but in January, I took inspiration from something I read in a magazine about setting goals for the year ahead. The article was primarily focused on achieving your creative goals and suggested that if you were a visual person, instead of writing a list of things with tick boxes next to them - rather dry and dull - try sticking inspirational images on your wall of projects you'd love to attempt. This makes things more real and, therefore, attainable and seeing all the vivid colours and textures, makes you want to start straight away.

So, I did just that and decided, that to start with, I wanted to learn to crochet, to be able to create some of the things I was looking at on my wall. A good friend of mine has always offered to teach me, so armed with a crochet hook and some yarn, I finally took her up on her offer and went over to her house. It was a lovely morning - very 'hyggelig' - where we sat and chatted and ate homemade leek and potato soup with ingredients from her allotment. She showed me a lovely cushion she'd made which she'd edged with crochet and we flicked through books with projects she was excited about making. We had a lovely morning and I'm very grateful. Her confidence and enthusiasm rubbed off on me and a trip to the local library ensued to look at what crochet books were out there to enable me to continue learning the skills she had taught me. 

One book in particular stood out called 'Beginner's Guide to Crochet' by Sarah Shrimpton. I checked the reviews online and they were all glowing and had five stars so I went ahead and bought myself a copy, which is now very dog eared and thumbed through, with notes scribbled all over it.

The reason why it is so good, is that it is truly a beginners book. It isn't a book with lovely projects and a few techniques thrown in at the beginning for good measure. I imagine this is due to the fact that Sarah too was a beginner not so long ago and taught herself to crochet after becoming a mum for the second time. She started a blog which is now full of ideas, advice and patterns. No doubt she would have liked a book like hers full of all the detail she had to search for when learning. Sarah understands how much information and encouragement you need as a beginner and she has thankfully, written it all down in this guide. 

Her style is chatty, friendly, honest and reassuring. Sarah guides you each step of the way, not leaving out any detail and telling you when it doesn't matter if it's not perfect! For each stitch or technique, there is a project to follow to practise and hone your new skill. It also means you create something from the start, which is very satisfying.

The book is split into chapters, the first involving learning the basic three stitches you need in order to crochet and also how to increase and decrease. I am gradually working my way through the whole book, which I would highly recommend for helping you to become competent and to ensure you continue to learn new techniques, keeping your interest alive.

Crocheting has become very addictive - as Sarah warns you in the introduction to her book. Actually, I started learning at the start of the year, just as I found out my dad had a terminal illness and it has been my saving grace ever since. it has given me a focus, creative outlet and distraction, whilst I have been grappling with my emotions, grief and struggling with bringing meaning back into my life and finding a way to move forward. It may sound daft, but it's true. Many people use craft as a way to cope with depression. 

I would also recommend sharing your skills, it's such a nice thing to do. It's homely, intimate and friendly. It makes you feel connected, cosy, happy and special, especially in a world that feels more and more uncaring, remote and hostile. I'd highly recommend it and who knows where it may lead you?

Above are photos of my finished projects from the first chapter. The cafetière cosy is crocheted in Double Crochet (UK terms). The dishcloths are in Half-Treble Crochet. I also experimented working in stripes. The bangles are in Treble Crochet, which covers the three basic stitches. The lavender hearts and bunting practise your decreasing and increasing. All the projects, except the cosy - made with wool from a charity shop - were knitted using Rico Yarns - Creative Cotton Aran, Essential Cotton Soft and Baby Cotton Soft. I shall post more pictures of my work from the following chapters, which include working in the round and mixing stitches together.

Brambling

Tomorrow is the Autumn equinox and marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn. This year, Autumn seems to have arrived early and we haven't had the glorious Indian Summer that we enjoyed last year. However, despite the nights drawing in and the mornings getting darker, I've learnt to love September. I quite like the return to 'normality'. Summer can be quite frenetic and full on, feeling the need and the pressure to eek out every sunny day and be out and about and there is the long six weeks holiday to fill with an only child who doesn't have the privilege to play outside on the streets with her friends, like I did.

September is calm and mellow with nature slowing down and preparing to hunker down for the winter. Amongst the rain and the wind, there have been some still soft golden days. Nature still has a lot to offer, particularly when it comes to berries - think Hawthorn, Rowan, Rosehips, Sloes, Elderberries and the many garden shrubs, which I don't know the names of, that bear berries of red and purple.

Purple and it's various shades are, to me, the colour of September. Many of the late summer flowers are purple, the most obvious being the Michaelmas Daisy which really stands out amongst the fading foliage and, indeed, got its name because it is one of the few flowers left at this time of year, Michaelmas being the 29th September. 

Every year, when I was young, we would head to the North Yorkshire Moors to see the vast swathes of violet Heather. The fruits we eat at this time of year are often purple too - Damsons, Plums, Grapes and Blackberries. Indeed we use some of their names to describe the various shades of purple.

I love 'Brambling' - picking wild blackberries from the hedge - which starts in August on our summer walks. We call the fruit a Bramble too where I grew up and I've just learn that Blackberries are in fact not a berry. My daughter is a fruit monster, so it didn't take me long to convert her to the joy of finding delicious things to eat, for free, whilst out and about. The first time we went brambling, her mantra was "ten in the mouth, one in the tub" and then eating the ones out of the tub too!

We always get scratched and our clothes caught on the sharp thorns, but it is well worth it. They are so much more delicious than the cultivated variety, particularly if it has been a bumper year. The purple stained fingers are a mark of a job well done. I adore the scent of blackberries and, when my tub is full, love to take a deep breathe in and inhale their unique perfume. It's heaven and evokes so many memories and feelings - (I do the same with rhubarb in Spring). 

I tend to go picking in September when the schools are back and have a favourite spot I return to each year. It is apparently unlucky to pick Blackberries after Michaelmas - something to do with the devil having spat on them - but in essence they are past their best by then and the flies have commandeered them all!

I always pick too many, so sometimes freeze them, although I don't think they taste quite as good from frozen. Without fail, I make a Blackberry and Apple crumble. Other favourite recipes include Blackberries in Custard Fools, Streusel Cake and with Baked Pears and Carmel.

A few years ago I finally got round to making some Bramble Jelly, which is quite hard to find in the shops and is one of my favourite jams. I followed a Waitrose recipe, which has very clear instructions for all the various stages of boiling, setting, sieving and decanting into jars. I like dressing up the jars and it's always nice to have something homemade to give as an impromptu gift, much more satisfying and personal than a shop bought item. 

I have included a couple of pictures from Flower Fairies of the Autumn by Cicley Mary Barker, depicting the Blackberry, Elderberry and Michaelmas Fairies. My sister and I used to collect Flower Fairy things, although I think my collection only amounted to three things - a tin, a mirror and a book. They may be 'old-fashioned', but I still think they are beautiful. The representations of the flower or tree are accurate drawings from observations and the poems/rhymes that go with them tell you facts about the flower or tree too. My daughter loves to read them to me and look at the pictures. Each tree/flower is also depicted through their season, so, for example, you get a Hawthorn blossom fairy and a Hawthorn berry fairy.

All this talk of food is making me hungry, but also reminding me of all the sweet treats to come in Autumn - Toffee Apples, Parkin, Bonfire Toffee....hmmmm

'Schultüte' - School Cone

In Germany it is traditional for children to receive a 'Schultüte' from their family on their first day of school. They are filled with all the (fun) bits and pieces you need for school, like pens and erasers, but also treats like sweets, stickers and small toys, to make it a bit like delving into your stocking at Christmas. 

As my Mum is German, I thought it would be fun to make one for my daughter's first day of school, to carry on the tradition. Of course, as kids start school so early in England, my daughter didn't really need any school supplies, but I filled it with school inspired toys instead, like a skipping rope, playground chalk and a practice shoe to learn how to tie your laces. 

For the cone, I chose a school colour palette of red and blue using gingham paper to decorate the cone and gingham tape to wrap the pressies - what says starting school in England more than gingham?! I made a matching tag with my daughter's name on it and tied it all up with, you guessed it, gingham ribbon.

My daughter was über excited to receive it, as it was a complete surprise. It was also rather large compared to my mum's school cone, as you can see from the photo of my Mum, with hers, in 1945 -  my German relatives thought it was hilarious. To compensate, there was a teeny one inside my daughter's Schultüte that came with the Playmobil school set. 

It was nice to create a happy memory for an event in a child's life that can often be a bit tricky and emotional.

Back to School

Today is back to school day for my daughter. She was very excited getting her clothes ready and bag packed last night, but the inevitable tears came this morning, when I said goodbye after the long six week holiday, despite the joy at seeing her friends again. 

Good luck to everyone going back to school, nursery, play group or Nan's! Here's some vintage pictures from 'Main Erster Brockhaus' to get you in the mood.

Summer Holiday!

It's the end of term, yay! Have a great summer holiday everyone and see you in September when I will be posting pictures of my first crochet projects and the 'Schultüte' I made for my daughters first day of school.

Upcycled Shelf

I've always wanted a little shelving unit for my daughter's bits and bobs. I intended to buy a vintage printer's tray and paint it, but then I found an old white shelf leaning against the wall of someone's house, with a sign saying 'please take me'. Finding something for free is always a bonus (and saves you time schlepping round junk shops) and also an incentive to make your find into something special. So I brought it home, gave it a good scrub, painted some of the squares with Docrafts paint and cut out pieces of old wallpaper samples to fit the rest of the holes. The best part was picking out all the bits and pieces to match.

My daughter is mad about fluffy white dogs. Every time I get a copy of Mollie Makes, she says "can you make that and that". So I made her the poodle finger puppet, from Issue 26 and the mini white Chihuahua, from Issue 3. I also had some tiny wooden counters from an old game of Risk, which I painted to make little building blocks for her baby bunny to play with.

It was lovely to watch my daughter discovering it and, with a delighted look on her face, delving into a new world of play with all the creatures and things in their new 'homes'.

Vintage ABC Book

My Mum has been fantastic and kept so many of our childhood toys and books from the 60s, 70s and 80s: Playmobil, Lego, Fisherprice, Galt and Ravensburger, to name but a few of the brands we had and which my daughter is now playing with and enjoying. They bring back so many happy memories and cosy feelings when we get them out. 

I love children's books illustrations. I worked in children's books for a long time and fantasised about being an illustrator at one point, so I have held on to some of the wonderful books I had as a child. I thought I would share some of them, on this blog.

Here are some photos taken from 'Mein Erster Brockhaus - Ein Buntes Bilder-ABC' from 1963 (my Mum is from Germany) with illustrations and design by Dieter von Andrian, Paul Froitzheim and Gerhard Wawra. I've picked out some nice neutral coloured pictures, many of which remind me of objects I used to discover at my grandparents and parents homes when I was little. I think they're fab and I shall post more soon.

Birthday Party

Three years ago, we had a party for my daughters birthday. As you know by now, I love any excuse to decorate and style the house. I didn't want a themed party, like pirates or princesses, but I do like something to get my creative juices flowing. So instead, I based the scheme on a dress I bought for my daughter from Marks & Spencer, using the colours and geometric shapes as my starting point.

I jazzed up some party hats, from My Little Day, with tissue paper tassels, making some for the garland and also some bigger ones that the kids could hold in their hands to shake and float around with to music with, as kids like to do!

I used Washi tape to make the bunting - plain, chevron and spotty - and to make stripes on the paper plates. I popped striped paper straws in mint, yellow and pink in their cups, which were from Meri Meri.

As always, I tied some of the food into the scheme, offering Fox's Party Rings, Fondant Fancies and yellow striped lollies.

As well as the party games, I had a little craft table on the go, including origami style tattoos, by Wee Gallery, making paper folding fortune tellers and airplanes out of straws, thanks to a tutorial by Kersey Campbell on Handmade Charlotte, which fly surprisingly well!

It was also Easter so a few bunnies and pastel dyed easter eggs popped up too, along with an egg hunt. The sun shone and everyone had a nice time. 

Since then party paraphernalia and themes have grown exponentially, but I still look back at this party fondly, as it was this and the encouraging comments from other parents, that gave me the courage to pursue a creative path and share all the things I make and do on this blog.

Yellow, Grey and Coral Bedroom

We have a spare bedroom at the back of our house which we squeezed a double bed into and used as our guest room. We sleep at the front of the house in a lovely light airy room, but it is west facing onto the street, so we have an extremely bright street light to contend with, plus traffic, people walking past late at night and the south westerly weather that batters our windows and is cold in winter and baking hot in summer. 

We calculated that out of 365 days of the year, we only use the back bedroom about 5 nights of the year. So we have decided we should make better use of it, than to just use it to dry our laundry in!

First we considered it as a work room for me. Then we got to thinking about how we use the rest of the house. I often sit in our front bedroom of a summer evening reading a book where we can see the sea and watch the pink sun setting in a cloudless blue sky. Our lounge, sadly, is basically where we watch TV and little else, so we suddenly had the idea that we could sleep in the back bedroom, where is is peaceful, quiet, dark and cool and looks out onto the greenery from all the neighbouring gardens -  I also love waking up in a room where the sun rises - and use the front room as an alternative sitting room, with a sofa bed to relax on. 

Our bed of 25 years finally collapsed recently, with the help of our jumping daughter, so we bought the Jonah bed from Made in daffodil. We then had to decide how we were going to decorate our new bedroom. The yellow of the bed is actually quite a hard colour to coordinate with, as it is not a golden yellow nor an acid citrine yellow, but I have come up with a scheme that I think works.

Here are my ideas on a moodboard. I have also created my Pinterest page for Paper and Chalk, with my first board full of my yellow, grey and coral (with a hint of mint) ideas. Hope you find them inspiring.

I've started buying a few bits for the bedroom. I intend to do an Ikea hack on the chest of drawers. I shall post some 'after' pictures when we have finished. The first big hurdle is for me and my husband to agree on a paint colour. Who knew there were so many shades of grey! 

Toy Lion

My daughter is mad about The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and has fallen in love with Aslan. She seems to find reassurance, comfort and safety in his presence. So a couple of Christmases ago, she asked for a toy lion. Large toys being inordinately expensive and taking up a lot of room, I decided to buy her a usual sized toy and hoped that would satisfy her need. I did try and find one that looked as close to the image that she had in her head, but was still cuddly and I found one that has been produced for the National Gallery to represent the four majestic lions in Trafalgar Square, (see below). 

She was very happy with it and has loved (and chewed) it every day since, accompanying her to school and even appearing in the class photo! However, the urge to have a lion that she could sit and 'fly' away on, would not go away and earlier this year, she said "Mummy, can I give you a challenge"?

I searched the internet for a pattern but couldn't find one, but my daughter doesn't give up that easily when it comes to soft toys and managed to find one on eBay, a photocopy of a Jean Greenhow pattern from the 80s (I think) that she thought fit the bill.

So I ordered the pattern and then, when it arrived, realised I needed to enlarge the pattern on to metric paper by hand, which was something I hadn't done before. Not being a big sewer, I was pleasantly surprised when all the cut out pieces of fabric actually fitted together and which, six bags of stuffing later, actually resembled a lion!

My daughter wanted it to be her small lion's daddy, so I tried to match it to be more like him, than to the one in the pattern photo. Thankfully my daughter was delighted and 'Aslan' now sleeps on her bed with her cuddled up to him every night. Zzzzz

20th Wedding Anniversary Party

A couple of years ago we decided to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, (why wait till our 25th)? The 20th year is china and we held a summer tea party in our garden, which seemed fitting and also a great excuse to bake more cakes! Crazily I decided to make a whole load of new things that I had never tried before, bar the fairy cakes. Madness I know, but other than the macrons which were a tad flat, everything turned out well and tasted delicious. I made: Cappuccino Caramel Torte, Chocolate Cake Pops, Fondant Fancies, Passionfruit Curd Profiteroles with White Chocolate Drizzle, Vanilla and Rose Macarons, Butterfly Buns, Heart shaped Italian Meringues and Cream, and Lime and Coconut Victoria Sponge. 

My decision as to what to bake was based on choosing summery flavours and to fit in with my cream, blush and peachy pink colour scheme. Other than the tea and wine, I also chose presses and cordials to match: Elderflower and Rose, Raspberry Lemonade, and Rhubarb and Strawberry with pink straws of course! 

The three bunnies represent the three of us and have special significance, so they had to be included as well. I made them their own miniature versions of what we were eating. 

I also made some sandwiches, of which no tea party is complete and these were: Egg, Cucumber and Mint, Tomato, Cream Cheese and Basil, and Smoked Salmon, Creamed Cheese, Lemon and Chives. Yum!

Interior Styling Course

A couple of years ago, I attended a five day course in Interior Styling run by Tara Larkin at UAL. One of the main parts of the course, was to choose an interior styling project for someone's home and present it at the end of the week. I chose a two bedroom 1930s flat for a 34 year old woman who liked Art Deco but was happy for you to work creatively and had no specific colour schemes in mind. These are the mood boards I came up with for her bedroom, hall, lounge, second bedroom-cum-craft room, kitchen and bathroom. I really enjoyed doing it, but it was primarily done between the hours of six pm and midnight when I got home every evening, as the rest of the week was full of other tutorials, projects and site visits. Exhausting but lots of fun!

Recipe Book

My two best friends are sisters and when they got married, I made them each a personal gift. I have known them all my life and they have been and continue to be very special people in my life. When the younger of the two got married, I made a photo album of the three of us growing up together from babies, through our childhood and then going our separate ways as adults, but still meeting up and having fun.

When the second sister, who is my age, got married, I decided to make a recipe book of 30 of my favourite cakes and bakes. We often had fun baking things together and, as my mum is German, we enjoyed different food at each others houses as we grew up.

My talented husband took all the photos, but his reward was getting to eat all the things I made. Not a bad trade off! 

My two friends make and sell beautiful unique felt and embroidered animals, decorations and personalised gifts. Visit their Facebook pages - 'Linen and Roses' and 'Little Stitched House'.

Recipes in order: Banana Muffins, Best Ever Chocolate Brownies, Apfel Streusel Blechkuchen, Date and Walnut Fudge Cake, Baked Pears with Vanilla Ice-cream, Ricciarelli, Rhubarb and Strawberry Fool, Gooseberry Cream Pie, Carrot and Cinnamon Cake, Raspberry Cinnamon and almond Torte, Lavender Shortbread, Marmor (Marble) Kuchen, Stollen, Vanilla Kipferl, Christmas Gingerbread Biscuits.

Knitted Bunting

For my brother's 25th wedding anniversary, he and his wife asked everyone to send a piece of bunting they had made to decorate the venue where they were celebrating. I thought that was a lovely idea. So I had a go at knitting a piece. I ended up making one with ribbon, but in the meantime I got addicted to knitting piece after piece of bunting in a rainbow of Cath Kidston like colours. Now I simply have to sew in the ends, block them and attach them to a piece of ribbon... 

Handknit Cardigans

My daughter was given a hand knitted cardigan when she was little and the lady who made it, gave me the pattern. I had taught myself to knit many years ago. At that time I decided to start with a project that just involved the basic knit stitch and plumped for a cushion cover, which was a big mistake. It involved 12 balls of wool and took way too long to complete, by which time I was bored and frustrated. Well, receiving this ‘easy knit’ pattern gave me the impetus to start again. It is so much better to start on a small project, with a variety of stitches and skills to learn. I managed to complete the yellow cardigan with the help of a friend, books and invaluable you tube videos - what a god send they are. It contains a few mistakes, but I was very pleased with the finished result and the fact that I had completed something from start to finish. I’m never going to be one of those knitters who can watch tv and hold a conversation whilst knitting a jumper in an afternoon, but it brings me great pleasure and satisfaction. All the patterns are by Sirdar using Baby Bamboo yarn. 

Old School Desk

Last year we bought our daughter an old Victorian school desk for her birthday. She said how much she loved the old individual desks with lift-up lids and ink wells (after seeing Charlotte's web) and I managed to find this one with an attached chair. Needless to say it had graffiti, compass scratches and ink splats inside it (and, of course, the odd piece of chewing gum), so I sanded it down and lined it with paper. I was going to paint it (sacrilege I know) - but my daughter loves old fashioned things like battered brown suitcases, dolls in lace clothes and leather bound books with someone's dedication written inside in lovely calligraphy - so I decided to leave it for her to appreciate its patina. However, I wanted to inject some colour into her desk and give it a modern twist, so I bought pens, pencils, notebooks, rubber bands, satchel and washi tape in neon pink, coral, orange and blue. I love a colour theme! She was over the moon, which was lovely to see, especially as it was a complete surprise.

Neon mechanical pencils, neon pencil crayons (in Satchel), Rubber Bands, Washi Tape, Pencil Case, Pink A4 Notepad and Wallets: all Paperchase, Silvine notebooks: WHSmith, Kids Glasses: Claires Acc, Satchel: Ebay.