Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

As this year draws to a close and a bright new year, full of hope, possibilities and excitement approaches, many of us like to take time to reflect, take stock, review and make changes in our lives. Hopes and dreams may be voiced, resolutions made and future paths laid before us.
My year has been full to the brim but at the same time very rewarding. There has been great sadness and many tears but also so much laughter, fun, creativity and good times spent with family and friends.

The future is always uncertain, we do not know what lies ahead, we can make plans, work towards our dreams and make choices. I plan to live well, for myself and my family. I want to listen and observe the subtleties of nature, the wonder of life and feel grateful. I shall savour every moment of this precious precious life in the year ahead.

This year i have so enjoyed becoming involved in the blogging community. I am blown away by everyones creativity and passion, whether it be cooking or crafting something, gardening, sharing stories or just making us laugh. I feel enriched by reading about your lives, loves and celebrations. I have learned so much from so many warm and brilliant people. 2008 brings many personal changes, some exciting, some scary.. i am going to face these changes head on. (even the turning 40, which i plan to celebrate for the whole year).

Wishing you all a very very Happy New Year.

Thank you for all your friendship this year, enjoy your celebrations and see you in 2008.
g x

Thursday, December 20, 2007

That festive feeling...

Things have finally slowed down folkydokee wise..... the last orders have been sent and the book text finally finished. Now is the time for my own family Christmas preparations....

These beautiful glass vintage baubles were a charity shop find about 10 years ago... Each year as the Christmas box is brought down from the loft i anticipate their beauty and am never disappointed. Our other decorations are a collection built up since the girls were born. Each year they both choose a new tree ornament. Their Advent calender also over the past 6 years has included some tree decorations. The tree is now looking quite full!

I love colourful Christmas Trees and this year the girls took charge in decorating ours.
We went to a local farm to choose our tree, last Sunday. It was charming and there were a few animals to see including reindeer. We spent ages (as always), looking at each one and then returned to the one my lovely man had picked out in the first place!

When we got home we got out the lights and after securing it in the stand and pruning out a few branches the tree came inside, then to be twisted round and round by 'daddy' (about 4 times.. with him lying on the ground underneath) before us 3 girls had decided on the right angle... well he did ask us!
The coloured lights no longer all worked so we decided on the white lights.. they looked lovely all alight. My eldest and i both decided that a funny bit of tree sticking out would have to be pruned off. Well off i went for the garden secateurs... well you can guess can't you.. For a person who is so safety conscious to the extent of being annoying, i couldn't believe what i did next...... pruned off the offending sticky out branch and cut through the cable of the lights! The cable was green and i just didn't very scarily easy to do. Luckily this was an indoor/outdoor set so went through a transformer so the voltage was small. If it had been a basic straight into 240 volts type string of lights then it would have been a very different story.
Consequently we couldn't decorate the tree as planned on Sunday evening.... as in my husband's words.. 'mummy's killed Christmas '.
To make matters worse in all this excitement i put my back out and have been unable to do very much these past few days, although it is improving and today i feel much better... so tidying the house can't be put off any longer!

After a new string of lights was purchased (with a silver cable) the girls decorated the tree on Tuesday evening. Here is the result...

All we need to do now is put the angel on top and then finish decorating the rest of the house.

The wreath for our front door is the next job using my twiggy circle.. made from wisteria prunings about 4 years ago.. it feels great to recycle it each year.

I like a simple natural wreath and usually use my sweet myrtle which is covered with dark glossy berries at the moment.

I dried some oranges the other evening and will perhaps include them too...

Solstice and Christmas wishes to you all. Have a wonderful holiday week with light, warmth and peace.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A woodland walk, a car boot and some more brooches

Last weekend i joined my mum and my girls for a beautiful walk in the local woods near to her house. The weather was crisp and dry and the autumnal colours so stunning. I love walking through forests at any time of year but the deep carpet of leaves beneath out feet was just amazing.
My mother, as usual, set a nature trail for us. We were to find or see something for each letter of the alphabet. This is how we got on....

flower ( and a great footprint)

great tit
keys (sycamore)
mud (and moss)
old mans beard
roots (which we kept tripping over as they were hidden beneath the leaves)
sedge (and sheep)

trees ( particulary beech trees as it is a beech wood)
x sign (x marks the spot)
yellow leaves ( yes cheating i know)
z ( ?)

I think we did ok.. it was a lovely walk and just what i needed!

We got home just before it started raining.

This Sunday i went to a local car boot and found amongst other things some sweet Beatrix Potter books (my youngest collects them).

There were along with The Tailor of Gloucester and Squirrel Nutkin, some with which i am unfamiliar;
The Tale of Mr Tod, Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes and The Tale of Little Pig Robinson.
I will keep them for her for Christmas.

I sometimes call my youngest 'Hunca Munca', though she isn't really very naughty.

I have also been making more flower brooches. I really love making these, especially choosing all the colour and fabric combinations. Alice is at a Charity Fundraising evening tonight and has taken some of these and other bits and bobs to sell. She has just telephoned me to say that she has won a bottle of Champagne from the raffle. Now i wish i had gone! She also says the turquoise brooch has sold. I knew it would but was half hoping it would end up on my jacket.
Still i could make some more?

The rest of the week will now be focusing on finishing the text for the book. This requires a different type of concentration than with the pattern drafting and sewing and above all requires copious cups of tea and lots of chocolate!!
Thank you for all your comments on the last post... please be assured that although busy i am at the moment keeping all my 'balls' in the air.. i am being kind to myself and taking time to chill and part of this is doing a post, as is catching up with all your blogs.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Blogging and work

Hello there.. long time no post i know......

When i started blogging i was hoping to post every 2 or 3 days. It now seems to be once a week if i'm lucky.
I do want to say thank you so much to everyone who reads my blog ... i love getting the feedback and comments. I also want to say that once a week is probably all i can manage at the moment... maybe it will increase when i'm a little less busy and when i can share more of what i'm working on.

This week for us at the Flour Loft has been another busy one. We have just finished working a full week on the book with a few orders thrown in for good measure. I am unable to show the actual book projects but can say that we are working very hard. In addition to the 20 step by step projects we are also making many extra items to illustrate variation and to hopefully give further inspiration. We have a 2 day photo shoot next week, so the pressure really is on to finish everything. Then the final copy has to be submitted by the end of the month. Aside from the book, we are also in the busiest time of year.... the run up to Christmas. So orders are coming in for handmade stockings and personalisations. Sometimes it's hard to work out what to do first. Alice is fantastic at working steadily through but i tend to dart from one thing to another. I try and tackle the smaller orders as soon as they come in to get them out before they pile up.
Luckily most folk who place larger orders appreciate that there will be a short wait.

This week we have made many brooches and decorations, which are being ordered through not on the high street, including these pretty beaded hearts which i posted off earlier.

I also made up a heart peg bag today for possible inclusion in a February magazine. Typical that the one thing that is requested (also via not on the high street) is the one thing which is out of stock!

I have also managed to get myself a some part time work for next year at a local college. I had an interview on Monday and they offered me a job on Wednesday. I hadn't had an interview for over 10 years!

Alice and i will continue collaborating and we have some possible other projects that we are musing over. Our priority at the moment is to finish the book and complete our Christmas orders. We will then hopefully be in a position in the new year, without studio overheads (which is a large drain on a small business), to have the freedom to continue with commission pieces and to further explore our own creativity.

Three Christmas card designs are now for sale... star and snowflake .. £3 each and tree £4.50 and the last of our Advents now at £45 over at the website.. here

Please check out our other Christmas products and handmade gifts on our website . More updates soon.
Happy weekend to everyone.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Festival of Craft and recycling

Recycling is important to me. My family have recycled as long as i can remember. It is not a new thing. My folks, with no money and three small girls in the late 60's, early 70's .. well you just were thrifty. I think perhaps 'saving' things for possible future use in my genes, along with my tendancy towards clutter!
When i was 16 i took an evening class in indigo dying and batik, funnily enough with Alice (we have known each other a long old time!). My dad made us both a batik frame from the old wooden clothes horse that my mum had used to dry my cloth nappies on. He had kept it in the loft and then reinvented it years later. Also my mum was a primary teacher so egg boxes, cereal packets and the like were always saved in true 'Blue Peter' style.
Nowadays we are all more aware about waste and are hopefully moving towards reducing what we consume as well as continuing to recycle. I am always interested in how materials are reinvented and recycled and i would like to share with you some interesting products and people i have come across. Please click on the highlighted links to view their websites.

A friend of ours has just turned 40.... We went to his party in Dorset a while ago (our recent camping trip) but have just got the present we had ordered through. I saw these on not on the high street, by pop guru and thought they were fun....

Bowls made by recycling old LP vinyl records.

We were after a particular artist so emailed them and had to wait a bit but it was worth it. The bowl arrived and we were delighted. What's more we didn't think about the date which would be on the record and by shere fluke it is 1967 the year he was born! wow.. how about that.. very pleased.. now i hope he will like it.

A few weeks ago i went a local Festival of Crafts and came across Joanne Tinker who recycles metal bottle tops from beer bottles and creates beautiful pendants, earrings and brooches. I was excited by these and very tempted, but she was very busy and i didn't get a chance to speak to her. Her necklaces were my favourite pieces.

She also had little box frames containing tiny sweet wrapper cups, a great idea and so colourful. My sister and i used to make these when we were children so they felt particulary nostalgic.

There were a few other artists recycling.. Elizabeth Cook recycles fabrics.. mainly old woolens which she felts... not a new technique to many bloggers yet i thought her use of colours and the simplicity of her designs was good.

I was also inspired by Julie Roberts who uses textiles and handmade paper. Paper making and papier mache are techniques i loved using whilst at art college and hope to experiment with again soon. Her lampshades were like jelly fish sea anenomes. They were quite large and in real life stunningly beautiful. She is based at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading if anyone is near and is interested in searching her out.

Another interesting exhibitor from the festival was....Elizabeth Beverley with her beautiful plant dyes wool for knitting. I would love to do some natural dying. I have my mum's old recepies from when she studied natural dying.. i even have her old dye vat in which i remember her steeping onion skins and other such raw material, when i was a child. I always loved the wooden tongs she used.. i wonder if she still has them. I would also love to knit. I come from a family of knitters.. even my dad knits. I am the one that sews rather than knits but i had the urge the other day to do some knitting when i saw my girls knitting with 'nana'. I went out and brought some yarn and am now the proud owner of a cotton dishcloth. I already have 2 bought from a friends craft stall a while back, they really are good and have a great abrasive quality. I think i will make some more.. it may help me to enjoy cleaning a little more.

Other interesting recycling sites to look up...
Anna Roebuck's Bags to riches.... Anna is an artist who recycles plastic bags in to jewellery, art and lights.
Doy bags ......colourful, fun bags and home accessories made from recycled juice packs by a women's cooperative in the Philippines and Remarkable recycled stationary goods.

Hope you find some of these links useful and if you know of any interesting other links please leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Apples and pumpkins..

We took part in an amazing event this weekend at RHS Wisley in Surrey.

The event was a Taste of Autumn, which was a celebration of Autumn and local produce. The event also included a display of competition fruit from the National Fruit show held last week in Kent. I've never seen so many different varieties of apples. Apple tasting and lots of local produce sampling was in full swing all throughout the weekend, even local WI groups were there serving homemade soup and preserves.
The weather was glorious and visitor numbers exceeded all expectations.


...and more apples.

Our stall was just opposite the display garden for the Wisley trials which showed a small shed and vegetable plot, with lots of perfect picked produce. Check out these pumpkins...

The display was so charming, and it even came with a resident robin. He flew in whilst they were setting up on Wednesday and came back everyday. He had definately marked his territory. He also liked to swoop up to the other end of the marque to feast on the berries on the Woody Plants display (much to their annoyance!)

If you look carefully you can just make him out on the shed door.

It was a great family event, with pumpkin carving and Autumn craft activities. Here is a small friend with his fab 'Shrek' pumpkin!

Our stall fitted in well with all our fruit, vegetable and flower designs. We met some lovely customers and made very good sales. We only have three of our shopper bags left in stock now!
The RHS staff are fantastic and were all so helpful. After a week with a sick child, and a school craft fair on Thursday evening, i was extremely tired, but it was such a pleasure to be involved in and i really enjoyed the whole experience. The only sad thing was that we didn't get to meet alice c... we almost did.. but it wasn't to be. Maybe another time.

Here is our stall..

The t.shirts which we designed for Hampton Court with either a strawberry or apple on proved popular. We have apples left in all sizes and strawberries in the large only.
small age 3-4, medium age 5-6 and large age 7-8.
They are a transfer print from taken from our original appliques. They are £5 each .. please email if you would like to buy one. They are not on the website yet but i do hope to add them soon.

This week is half term for us... We have already had a day out with Alice and the boys ending with seeing the film Ratatouille.. great fun. We are also hoping to create some more Autumnal pics and make our Hallowean costumes this week!
I'll leave you with a picture my youngest did after collecting some leaves a few weeks ago... This is for Louise at thisismypatch.

owl, moon and tree.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What have i been up to?

These past few weeks the main sound in my house has been the tap tap tap of the computer keys.

We have been working hard to update our folkydokee website.

After my brief tuition in basic html and dreamweaver (very limited but still exciting) from my man, we have between us been, taking, cropping and adding product photos and now have a site (still needs some additions) ready to receive online purchasing. We have some products still to update and hopefully we are now on a roll and will achieve this in the coming weeks.

Many of the products which are ready made or as we like to say 'off the peg' have been reduced. We are now making a distinction between these and made to order items which still can be made up but at the usual price. This covers the element of design time and fabric sourcing to each orders needs.

The reason for this new move is that we are changing direction and have chosen to vacate the studio at the end of the year. In the New Year we will continue to collaborate and will be able to take on special orders based on our work to date. We will also be developing some other personal projects, continuing commission pieces and will perhaps do some workshops.
We are really excited about all the possibilities that this new freedom will allow us, both individually and together.

Please do go over and have a look our updated website and if you know anyone who would like our creations, please encourage them to have a look too.
Thanks for all your support.
Alice and Ginny

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Studio catch up...

Things have been busy at The Flour Loft this year....

For those of you who have read this blog for a while, you will know that we exhibited as 'folkydokee handmade' at the Hampton Court Flower show in July. This was a lovely show to do not least as we could have a jolly good look round at the fantastic gardens early in the day before it all got too busy. As a small company it was hard work getting the stock ready, but it was also extremely enjoyable. We feel we designed and made our best stuff yet for this show and were really pleased with how the stand came together. I think it is one we are most proud of, along with this one as a close second.......

This was our stand at Country Living's Christmas show last year. A great show to do and where we met a lovely publishing lady!
We have had to make the hard decision not to do Country Living's Christmas Fair this year. In addition to really enjoying doing this show, it is also very lucrative and for both reasons we will very much miss it. We are though, at this precise moment in full throws of writing our book with a finish deadline for the end of November!!! so obviously need to focus on this.

Having said that we are still open for business and are already taking Christmas orders for Stockings and Advents. In the next few weeks i will be posting some images of the Advents and Stockings which we have left from last year. These will be sold off at a reduced rate. We will not be making up any new Christmas stock but we will, as usual be taking orders. If you would like something made to order please don't leave it too late to contact us as we are only able to take on a limited number of orders this year.

Our next show is the RHS's A Taste of Autumn at Wisley. This is a fantastic event which runs from the 19th to the 22nd October and also hosts The National Fruit Show. Check out the link for further info. We will be exhibiting on the Saturday and Sunday only. Please come and say hello if you are there. We may also, time and book permitting, do a few small local craft fairs. I will posts details if we do.

As i write this the sun is shining and it's hard to think Christmas is not too far away. ( sorry!!) I have been using the light today to photograph some of the Christmas stock to put on the website. It has got me wondering how early do most people start to think about the festive season? Have you already started buying or making presents? My mum has declared we are having a frugal, thoughtful, non excessive low impact Christmas.. basically she doesn't really want a present and would rather money go to a charity or to people less fortunate. As we are all creative i expect homemade will be the order of the day. Last year Alice and i decided to buy 'thoughtful presents' and we bought a lot of things from Ecotopia and The Centre for Alternative Technology.

How do you feel about Christmas? What does it mean to you? Do you hate all the commercialism? It is far too early for me to be posting this?

ok.. so we have only just got used to Autumn... Only one day left to vote for your favourite season on my little poll on the side bar. Autumn is out ahead at the moment. Can it be caught or are you all just happy in the' here and now'?

My favourite is Spring.. a time of new beginnings.. hope.....

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Realisation that summer has passed...

The sunflower has now faded

The long days of Summer are now gone...

But my passion flower is still going strong.

Seeds to gather

and time for me to welcome in Autumn with all her beautiful colours.

This time of year often finds me slightly melancholic ... but the beautiful colours, the conkers, the smokey evenings.. all your inspiring Autumnal posts.. have me in brighter spirits than usual and i am appreciating all that this time of year brings.

Do you have a favourite season or do you love them all?
I have added a poll (on the side bar) if you'd like to vote for your favourite.
Happy weekend


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Ice Bowl!

I did it and it worked.. Sorry the photo is bad but i hope you get the idea.

I just put a small bowl into the larger bowl and filled up the bottom and sides. I probably didn't leave it long enough as it's bottom could have frozen better. Apparently you can freeze it in stages.. e.g. fill the bottom few inches of your large bowl first and freeze... then add the smaller bowl weighted down (with more water) and fill around the sides. My friend Amanda whose suggestion it was that i attempt one, made an ice bowl at Christmas and filled the sides with glitter stars and some cranberries. Hers was so thick and so frozen that it didn't melt and she remembers wiping it out and refreezing it!
My man was impressed and said it was like ' proper, posh presentation.' Very different from my usual thing. I may try it if we have friends around sometime.. i think if you put the right herbs in you could break off bit to use in drinks. Alternatively once melted, use it to water your plants!

Thank you for all your anniversary wishes, we had a lovely evening. We also had a weekend away as an old flame had a 40th Birthday doo in Dorset (near Bridport). No posh hotel i'm afraid.. my man treated me to a camping adventure, and adventure it was as the wind was so strong the tent (a small igloo one) nearly took off! One of the legs was broken so we wrapped it in gaffa tape and it did hold. Luckily it wasn't raining as every time the wind blew the whole tent blew in and knocked into us.. Romantic .. er no, but memorable nevertheless!

We did survive it and the location was beautiful , just on the cliff.
This was the view...

The sun was out when we arrived and the breeze was strong.. i just love the force of the wind .. it makes me want to stand up tall, stretch my arms in the air and breath it all in. Which i did... .. it felt so good! There's nothing quite like the forces of nature to shake off the cobwebs and make you feel alive and exhilarated.
The next day after the party was quite a different story, however!
Hope your weekend was good.