Friday, 31 October 2014


After a very busy but fun half term, Halloween has arrived and we have spookified things here, ready for tonight's festivities.

 The pumpkin has been carved ...

... the ghosts and bats are here ...

... cobwebs have materialised ...

... and my favourite, the Indian corn has come out.

Not very spooky, but I love those coloured kernels.

Cakes are decorated ...

...and sweets are ready for any (friendly) trick-or-treaters.

If you're out tonight, have fun and if you're in, hope you have a cosy evening indoors.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Seed Heads

Whilst so much outside is looking decidedly damp, drippy and dull, I have been livening up dark corners of the house with little seed head arrangements. They are not bright or vibrant, and they come in many shades of brown, which is not my favourite colour, but they have a charm all of their own, and to my mind definitely merit closer inspection to enjoy them fully. 
Look at this love-in-the-mist seed head. It's amazingly sculptural, making me think of modern architecture. 

And this poppy - what a graceful fluted shape. 

Cleverly designed by nature, the seeds disperse through the little holes when the wind shakes the seed head.

These are the dried seed heads of bluebells. They're paper-thin and translucent.

The teasel is very prickly and often grows around old woollen mills, as the heads were used to card wool. The word 'card' comes from the Latin name for teasel, carduus.

The seed heads of umbellifers, like cow-parsley or wild carrot, look like the spokes of inside-out umbrellas and some, like this one, close as they dry to form a little cage.

In between the showers I go into the garden to look at the seed heads outside as well. The clematis seed heads are whirled like little Catherine wheels. 

And some are incredibly soft and fluffy.

More umbellifers, fennel this time, with lots of seeds ready to dry and use in the kitchen. I leave enough for the birds, and ladybirds hibernate in the hollow stalks.

The seed heads of the crocosmia turn orange, a colourful echo of the flowers.

These irises swell and pop open to show their seeds. They usually grow by ponds or rivers, and the seeds fall in and are dispersed on the water.

A few years ago I discovered the artist and print-maker Angie Lewin, when one of her greeings cards caught my eye. Since then I have been hooked on her amazing work, and bought her book 'Plants and Places', which is full of the most gorgeous images of seed heads, stems, leaves, berries, shells and pebbles. Her shapes are strong and fluid, and the colours rich and vintage, and she has the eye of a botanist for the plants' detail.

Inspired by Angie, I like to add feathers to my little arrangements. In this case a guinea-fowl feather, dark brown and delightfully polka-dotted.

I love the shapes and textures of seed heads, corn and feathers. They go together well in stoneware or metal containers like this, and bring a more natural, earthy palette of colours indoors.

These sweet and unassuming little arrangements look pretty dotted around the house, and I am always glad that I took the time in the summer to dry these stems. As the evenings darken and I draw the curtains a little earlier each evening I enjoy their natural forms and tones, and remind myself that they contain the seeds of next year's floral colour and abundance, all part of the year's cycle x.

Friday, 17 October 2014

This Week

Well, another week is nearly over, and as we near the weekend it's nice to look back at the little things that have made me happy:

1) Last weekend we went to Brighton for the day to visit my lovely sister-in-law, A, and her partner, M. I had hoped to take lots of photos and post about what a vibrant and interesting city Brighton is, but heavy rain swept in very soon after we arrived and made photography impossible. Early on, however, I took these photos of the impressive seafront where a motorcycle show was taking place.

The sea was a beautiful aqua colour, despite it being a dreary October day.

We had a lovely lunch there, catching up with A (who is very creative and has her own blog at Cat + Fox) and M, and drove (hence the blurry picture) home past the Royal Pavillion as the raindrops fell. We visited it years ago, and I remember it being extremely ornate inside.

2) A and M gave me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for my birthday - I was so thrilled. The colours are rich and autumnal and have really brightened up the house this week. 

 3) We've had a lot of rain and very low light-levels. Time to switch my fairy lights on! I have some in the kitchen which I like to light when the days turn darker, as well as candles like this one, Wild Fig by Yankee Candles.

4) Last weekend I also treated myself to some more yarn (as if I don't have enough) from my local craft shop. It's Crofter by Sirdar, and I'm a big fan of it, as it is acrylic with some cotton and wool mixed in which gives it a lovely soft texture. I love the seasonal colours too. I don't know yet what I'll make with it, but I can't resist buying individual balls of yarn without any plan in mind. Do you do that too? Last year I knitted two plain garter stitch infinity scarves with Crofter in green and blue. I must get them out ready for the colder weather.

5) Finally this week I crocheted some little leaves with the cotton yarn I bought in this post. Not sure yet what they'll turn into, but I have a few ideas in mind.

Well, it's been a very wet, dark week, and suddenly summer feels like a memory, but it's giving me a good excuse to snuggle up indoors and indulge myself in a bit of creativity. Hope you have a good weekend x

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Mellow Fruitfulness

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...
Conspiring ... to fill all fruit with ripeness to the core"
'Ode to Autumn', Keats

Keats certainly knew what he was talking about - what a lot of very bright berries and fruits there are in our garden at the moment. Look at these cotoneaster berries - I don't think I have ever seen them look so red!

The passion flower fruits have been ripening too, from green ...

... to yellow ...

... to orange ...

... to very bright orange - fabulous sunset colours!

Orange too are the rowan berries, but they are disappearing fast as the birds like to eat them.

And finally my favourite, Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion', or the Beautyberry. Yes, the berries really are that purple! I had often thought about buying one but had found them quite expensive in the garden centre, when I came across a sad-looking, reduced one in my local supermarket a few years ago. Quick as a flash I bought it and planted it, and now every year it produces these wonderful bright purple berries. 

Last year I made table decorations for P's birthday lunch using lots of chrysanthemums mixed in with these berries. I loved how the fiery colours exploded together.

Afterwards I had fun arranging them with some apples and quinces outside on a sunny day, my own mini 'harvest festival'.

Wouldn't mind some of that sunshine back this week! As soon as it stops raining I'm off to plant my daffodils for spring. Now where are my wellies? x

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Autumnal Jewellery

As well as making things with yarn and fabric I like to make jewellery, and have sold it in the past to friends and relatives, as well as on craft stalls. I've made such a lot of yarny things in the last couple of years that I don't make as much jewellery as I used to, but every once in a while I get my beads and pliers out and sit down for an afternoon's creating. This week the richness of the season's autumnal colours inspired me to make a necklace from some bright, firepolished glass beads. 

I wanted to keep the colour selection as random as possible, so I threaded them onto a piece of tiger tail wire and finished it with a lobster clasp. 

It's a simple make and the beads have a lustre to them which makes the glass catch the light.

I love the prettiness of them.

Still feeling inspired, I got my semi-precious beads out and made another simple item, a bracelet made from stones which reflect the colours of fallen leaves - agate, jade and jasper. I finished it off with a sweet silver clasp.

The stones give the bracelet a nice weight, and they feel cool to the touch. Some of them are clear while others have interesting streaks and patterns.

Here's another very easy autumnal bracelet which I made last year. It's made from wooden beads on elastic thread in bright, zingy shades of orange, yellow and purple. It reminds me of autumn flowers like chrysanthemums, and vegetables such as aubergines and pumpkins. 

Happy colours, I think.

A few years ago I made this orange and antique silver bracelet from a very random collection of odd beads. I like the mix of large and small, clear and opaque, and the mix of materials. For the findings I used tiger tail wire and an antique-effect clasp.

Isn't this large glass foil bead gorgeous? It reminds me of a sweet wrapped in shiny paper.

I've enjoyed my little bead diversion, but I think it's time to go and do some more work on J's university blanket. I'm determined to get it finished sooner, rather than later!