Category Archives: Craft

A Nosy Snapshot – Other Folks Homes!

Succulent Cacti Home,Rocking Dog

Succulent Cacti Home

Sorry sis’ I couldn’t resist taking some snapshots of your home over the weekend. I think all of us forget about some of the beautiful, odd, eccentric tactile objects that many of us surround ourselves with. I love some of the eclectic collections which have evolved over the years in my sisters London home. The couple together with my three gorgeous nieces.
have filled their home with innovative storage (much designed and built by talented sis’), colour and lovely things. There are junk shop finds, items retrieved from skips, ebay purchases, gifts, and sentimental pieces from childhood homes.

I couldn’t resist snapping niece No3’s Cacti home. A Terrarium from Ikea has been filled with textural mini cacti and succulents. I might just have to be a copycat and create my own cacti home. These hairy and spiky lovelies are really difficult to kill which definitely goes in their favour!

The Thumbelina collection resides in a little glass fronted painted cupboard no more than 12inches x 12inches. How very satisfying to have such a wonderful Lilliput stash, a perfect place for “The Borrowers” to reside. On another staircase there are shelves with ceramics from 18th century through to present day. I certainly remember the pair of old blue jugs in my parents home. They were sat on shelves close to where our elderly cat had an improvised cat litter tray- the carpet! I remember there was also a large jug of bullrushes and for some reason those gave be awful recurring nightmares. There was also a lion in my fretful slumbers and this may have come about because of a large 70’s hessian lion which lived close to those bullrushes.

It is probably not difficult to ascertain that sis’ did Wood, Metals & Plastics for her degree whilst partner Rod did Illustration. This is a creative home which takes on board their love of how things are made, materials, colour, contemporary design and patina’d age.

The green Minton majolica jug has particular sentimental jokey significance as it was the receptacle used one evening by New Romantic Rod for a bout of drunken sickness! My parents never found out but we used to bait Rod and sing improvised words to Shakin’ Stevens “Green Door”. I saw a smaller version of the same jug recently and it was a few hundred pounds. Perhaps that is why the jug has found its place on a high shelf never to be used as an impromptu vomit bowl again.

One of my favourite pieces of furniture in the house is an old wooden locker unit. I think it had appeared in a couple of films before being sold to sis’. I love the chunky wooden bed too. For a while we delighted in it being in our house. I was always rather hoping it would end up being surplus to requirements. Alas no.

So this is a little whistle-stop tour of lovely things in a home I love. More nosy snapshots of other folks homes soon! Volunteers very welcome.

Have a wonderful week and I hope the pollen count goes down to all of you poor hay fever sufferers out there. Love Rocking Dog x

PS Thank you to Tucker O’Hara (love the name) from across the pond who sent a photo of her finished Kaffe Fassett Peas. Well done Tucker for persevering with ALL those greens! Mine remains resolutely unfinished..one day!

Ceramic Cacti,Rocking Dog

Ceramic Cacti

Staircase Collection,Rocking Dog

Staircase Collection

Thumbelina Collection, Rocking Dog

Thumbelina Collection

Bold Walls,Rocking Dog

Bold Walls

Bold Bedhead,Rocking Dog

Bold Bedhead

Lovely Locker,Rocking Dog

Lovely Locker

Infamous Green Jug!,Rocking Dog

Infamous Green Jug!

High Fives!,Rocking Dog

High Fives!

Me, & My Bruv & Sis',Rocking Dog

Me, & My Bruv & Sis’

A Quick Vintage Tea Towel Make From Rocking Dog

Jolly Tea Towel,Rocking Dog

Jolly Tea Towel

The weather was miserable yesterday, even usually super keen Real Live Rocking Dog did not want to move from under his cosy blanket. I was waiting for lovely Mr Cooker Man to put new elements into my oven, so I decided to do a little bit of sewing. I found a jolly unused vintage tea towel on Material Mountain and decided it would make a great beach bag. The linen tea towel was a recent 50p purchase in a local charity shop. I searched on the Mountain for suitable lining fabric and found a nautical striped fabric remnant. From start to finish the project took under an hour.

If you want to make your own bag:-

1 pretty tea towel
Lining fabric cut to the same size as your tea towel
Apron tape, ribbon or string for handles
Cotton thread

1.Take your tea towel and fold it in half. Unless your tea towel has an overall pattern without script you will find the print on one of your “halves” will be upside down. I cut my tea towel in half so that any script would be right way up on each side of my bag.
2. Check your two tea towel halves have script/pattern going in right direction before placing the halves front side to front side.
3. Sew a narrow hem to form the bottom seam of the bag. Press the seam, and then sew the two side seams. Trim any loose threads.
4. Repeat with the lining fabric but leave a gap of approx 8cm in one of the side seams. Turn the lining out to the right side.
5. Place the lining into the tea towel “bag” aligning the seams neatly. Pin the bags together before hemming the layers.
6. Pull the tea towel bag through the gap in the side seam and then sew the hole up neatly.
7. Push the lining into the outer tea towel bag. Push the corners out using a pencil or chopstick. Press Well.
8. Sort out straps for your bag. I used a double layer of apron tape, sewing the layers together with rows of red stitching.
9. Turn over and press 4cm or so of your lining fabric onto the front of your bag. Pin your straps into place with the the rough edges concealed under your turned over fabric.
10. Sew two rows of stitching, one at the top of your turn over and one at the bottom. Your straps will be neatly and securely concealed under this contrasting bag rim.

Voila! A stylish and unique beach bag for next to nothing. Right where is the sun and where is the sea– i’m beach ready! Somewhat embarrassedly I have never been to Norfolk, i’ll have to put it on my sixty by sixty list!

PS. Youngest lovely sent me this. I thought this article was a thought provoking read in these uncertain times.

Tea Towel & Lining,Rocking Dog

Tea Towel & Lining

Seam Free Lining,Rocking Dog

Seam Free Lining

Stitched Strap,Rocking Dog

Stitched Strap

Lock In Those Straps!,Rocking Dog

Lock In Those Straps!

Beach Ready!,Rocking Dog

Beach Ready!

T'other Side!,Rocking Dog

T’other Side!

Roll Up, Roll Up, Rocking Dog Huddle Tonight!

Haberdashery,Rocking Dog

Haberdashery

Yes it’s Rocking Dogs May creative huddle this evening 7-9pm. Bring along curtains to hem, buttons to sew, knitting, a crochet project or simply turn up for gentle nurturing chat. There’ll be coffee and cake, it’s Chocolate & Sweet Chestnut Turinois tonight. Perhaps i’ll even get to sew, i’m looking forward to using some of the vintage fabrics I bought at the recent Vintage & Handmade Jumble Sale. I particularly love the 50’s fish print towel, it would make a funky beach bag.

The house smells of caramelised sugar, with large batches of meringues heading into the oven. Rocking Dog is making a hundred large snowy white meringues for a fabulous wedding meringue pile up. They will be “glued” together with a summer fruit mascarpone cream. The tower will then be adorned with fairy lights and garden flowers. Look out for Rocking Dog’s blog next week for images of the sugary edifice.

I would love to see you at the huddle this evening. As ever donations go into the tea pot with a generous proportion going to Fine Cell Work teaching and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

New Fabric Stash,Rocking Dog

New Fabric Stash

Fifties Fish,Rocking Dog

Fifties Fish

Eggs For Meringues,Rocking Dog

Eggs For Meringues

Come For Coffee,Rocking Dog

Come For Coffee

Rocking Dog Huddle Wednesday 26th April

Rocking Dog Sewing Frou!,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Sewing Frou!

Yes indeedy! The April Rocking Dog Creative/Chatting Huddle happens this Wednesday 7-9pm. All welcome, bring a button to sew, curtains to hem, long lost knitting etc.. Homemade cake and a warm welcome awaits. I may even get the bubbly out to celebrate becoming a granny (to be known as Biddy as in old biddy!) Donations into the teapot, with a generous proportion sent to Fine Cell Work teaching and supporting prison inmates to embroider & sew. Thus far £35 has been amassed. Thank you.

Sorry I haven’t been posting.. I haven’t felt much like writing. Hopefully word-smithing will come more easily sometime very soon.

Love Rocking Dog x

I’m Done With The Leeches -It’s Bunny Therapy Now!

Favourite Floral Pots,Rocking Dog

Favourite Floral Pots

I’m done with the leeches and the Sourdough bread poultices I have joined my own self help group and taken up cheery bunny therapy!

I know it’s early and oh so tempting to eat chocolate eggs every time you pass the table but I thought I could do with a cheery styling project.I started with a wallpaper runner (Laura Ashley “Grapes” in the £5 bargain bin). I then collected together lovely florally china bits, wooden farmyard animals and Easter paraphernalia which I have collected and hoarded over the years. There were also foil wrapped eggs (M&S and Sainsbury’s), and bunches of spring flowers from shop and garden. My garden is a wonderfully weedy mass of Forget Me Nots and Soldiers & Sailors at the moment. Now these are weeds I really do like!

My Easter tableaux is still work in progress and gradually there will be more frou added. No doubt replacement egg supplies will be required. Meals will be taken in the kitchen for the next month!

Yesterday I also did some therapeutic spring clean therapy and gardening therapy. Oh blooming dear those pesky moles have been having a field day over the winter!

On a less cheery note our youngest daughter had a frightening experience in London last night. She was waiting for a bus at Highbury & Islington when two moped riding muggers mounted the pavement at high speed and stole her phone. Though not hurt she was desperately shaken. Witnesses were very kind and found it incredulous that in a matter of seconds this awful crime had occurred. It was well lit, busy and in a CCTV covered area. A concerned stranger let our distressed and shocked youngster borrow their phone to call us. It allowed us to get on and block the phone etc.. Thankfully there were no online banking passwords, but lots of other data available which made us all feel uneasy. We would hate this to happen to anyone else, please check data held on your phone and carefully think how and when you use your phone. There will be big hugs for Little Liv when I see her tomorrow.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead of you and that the sun keeps on shining. Love Rocking Dog x

Easter Tableaux,Rocking Dog

Easter Tableaux

Easter Loveliness,Rocking Dog

Easter Loveliness

Easter Wrap,Rocking Dog

Easter Wrap

Backpacking Bunny,Rocking Dog

Backpacking Bunny

Cleaning Therapy,Rocking Dog

Cleaning Therapy

Gardening Therapy,Rocking Dog

Gardening Therapy

Not Much Sewing, But Chatting A Plenty!

Spring Collection,Rocking Dog

Spring Collection

The Rocking Dog huddlers met last night. Alas, not much sewing was done but we made up for our creative inactivity with plenty of banter! If I had been a better host I should have been instrumental in getting the small but perfectly formed group sewing, stamping, sketching etc.. How rubbish am I!

Instead we talked. Much of the conversation was about family, predominantly of the dysfunctional variety. There would have been some good“Who Do You Think You Are?” episodes based on some of the skeletons in the cupboards! Other chatter centred around travels, significant birthdays, bee keeping, old age and hair. I discussed the man (I have strong suspicions of who he is) who drops cigarette packets in the lane. Am I somewhat OCD to be keeping a tally of the littering? (9 packets so far this year). This mornings’ packet carried a picture of some diseased lungs and the caption, “Smoking increases your risk of Stroke and Heart Attacks”. Frankly my blood pressure rises when I have to pick up yet another empty packet! Grrrrrrrr! As we have no kerbs in our lane we apparently do not qualify for road sweeping. A Womble I will continue being.

It seems I cannot allow my blood pressure to rise significantly or indeed get ill at all. Attempting to get a doctors appointment yesterday I was offered an appointment on the 23rd April. Audibly upset, armadillo skinned receptionist then kowtowed and kindly offered me an emergency phone appointment next Tuesday. I can begin to see why A & E departments and morgues get so full. Incidentally, the gangrene is doing well with my self applied leeches and sourdough bread poultices! Breathe, breathe, breathe.

Back to altogether nicer things we ate freshly baked stem ginger scones with rhubarb and clotted cream, and the evening went all too quickly. Drat, we didn’t even get onto“The Great Pottery Throw Down” and perhaps all too conveniently stayed clear of Article 50. As my mother used to say “in polite company you should never discuss politics, sex or religion“…. and we didn’t… but there’s always next time!

Thank you to the huddlers and as ever thank you for the teapot donations for Fine Cell Work.

PS. Diane you are an absolute angel. If I ever come into money I will buy you a big house for you to look after all those oldies.

Untouched Stash,Rocking Dog

Untouched Stash

Table Chaos,Rocking Dog

Table Chaos

Some I Made Earlier,Rocking Dog

Some I Made Earlier

The Tale Of Two Cities, Bristol & Bath.

Padlocks Of Love, Rocking Dog

Padlocks Of Love

Rocking Dog did a Mother’s Day post with the button ready to press. Alas, she thought it too cynical, bitter and twisted to post!

So indeed the over- gravy’d pub carvery meals have been served, Pandora mother’s day jewels given, Groupon breaks booked and nasty garage forecourt flowers bought up….the pink florally, over commercialised day is thankfully over for another year. Phew, I bet you are glad that this is the concise version!

I did have a lovely weekend and was lucky enough to spend time in two cities, so this indeed is the tale of two cities. Bristol of course is the city I live in, but Bath is the city that I sometimes hanker to live in. A small Bath stone terrace with handkerchief sized garden would be simply perfect!

Both cities have much to offer and though Bath is cited as a World Heritage Georgian jewel of a city there is in fact more Georgian architecture in its Bristolian brother! Bristol has just been proudly named as the most desirable place in the country to live. Creativity, food, technology, jobs market, lifestyle all have contributed to this accolade.

My weekend started in Bath. What better way to start the day than with A Bertinet Almond Croissant filled with blackcurrants and cassis. So much for my low carb’ mission! We sat in the sun delighting in all that is Bertinet. Andyman is not a shopper so he left little Liv’ and I to haunt Top Shop before heading onto older and more crumbly Bath. The antique market as always had lovely things to peruse. I particularly loved the tarnished pots and white Victorian jelly moulds potted up with grape hyacinths, moss etc.. How much more lovely than garage forecourt flowers!

Walcot Street (and onwards) is my favourite shopping street in Bath with a variety of interesting and importantly, independent shops. Shannon with its Marimekko fabrics and Scandi loveliness, Katherine Fraser’s lovely loom and weaving, Mebyl with eccentric old finds and Pencil Tree with mid century furniture are all great to peruse. Graham & Green have also set up shop on Walcot Street. I loved their gilded gate but wish their staff had been a little more friendly and welcoming. Heading back into the city there was a great display of Aesop products – no pink florally packaging in sight! These Australian products are often showcased in trendy restaurant and hotel bathrooms and smell TRULY wonderful.

We ended our trip to Bath at Selvedge Fair held at the Assembly Rooms. Everything was wildly lovely but mostly prohibitively expensive.

On Sunday the Tale of Two Cities took me to the harbourside in Bristol. Blue skies, sun and the feeling of spring in the air had brought people to the water. It is this fragment of Bristol which makes me most proud of the city. However back in time it’s history was much darker, and the port was a place to drop cargo’s of sugar from the plantations of the West Indies. Bristol’s merchants prospered and got rich on the back of the slave trade. Much much later my father worked in a stone warehouse close to the docks. The derricks would offload huge sacks of brazil nuts, peanuts, grain and seed. As children I remember clambering over these hessian sacks and watching as warehousemen tried to keep the mice and rat population under control!

On Pero’s Bridge I noticed that there are evermore love token padlocks appearing. Paris, Venice and Florence have padlock habit bridges. Authorities turn a blind eye for a while, but then when bridge structures look as if they may suffer under the weight of so many heavy love tokens they are cut off and cleared. Pero’s bridge incidentally gets its name from Pero Jones (1753-1798). He was a 12 year old slave boy bought by John Pinney to work on his sugar plantation on the Caribbean Island of Nevis. In 1784 Pero accompanied the family to Bristol where he worked as a personal servant at The Georgian House for the rest of his life.

Buskers, food stalls, skateboarders, sailors, eateries, museums and art galleries ….the waterside was buzzing! Thankfully I didn’t witness too many over gravy’d luke warm carvery plates!

The tale of two very lovely cities.

Remember the Rocking Dog creative huddle this evening 7-9. Delicious cake, creativeness and chat. Donations into the teapot with a proportion going to Fine Cell Work, training and supporting prison inmates with sewing projects.

Dock History,Rocking Dog

Dock History

Sun Blessed Harbour,Rocking Dog

Sun Blessed Harbour

River Station Eats,Rocking Dog

River Station Eats

St. Nick's,Rocking Dog

St. Nick’s

Aged & Wonderful, Bath,Rocking Dog

Aged & Wonderful, Bath

Mother's Day Pots,Rocking Dog

Mother’s Day Pots

Lovely Smells,Rocking Dog

Lovely Smells

Wonderful Weaves,Rocking Dog

Wonderful Weaves

Beautiful Buns!,Rocking Dog

Beautiful Buns!

Illuminating Store,Rocking Dog

Illuminating Store

Gilded Gate,Rocking Dog

Gilded Gate

Terraced View,Rocking Dog

Terraced View

Another Of My Horse Brasses Leaves The Kennel

Appropriate Token,Rocking Dog

Appropriate Token

A good while ago I bought a stash of horse brasses in a local charity shop. I expect the previous owner was simply bored of getting the Brasso out to polish them. A £5 note bought the heavy load and I had no cunning plan for them. As a notorious hoarder I knew they’d come in useful one day.

Horse brasses have ancient origins. In Roman times horses had harnesses that featured brasses, though they were in fact made from Bronze and called phalerae. In Great Britain even before the 12th century, horses had harnesses embellished with brasses. They were treated as good luck charms and in addition were a sign of status. The mid 19th century saw the height of horse brass popularity especially for Shire and parade horses. The love of embellishing harnesses continued until the demise of Dray horses.

Back to my own stash, last year a piggy brass accompanied an invite for a meal at The Pig near Bath. The envelope was appropriately made from an archived Pig menu.

Yesterday the brasses were brought out again. After eighteen months of lying empty our village pub, The White Horse has been relaunched. What could be more appropriate for the beamed hostelry than one of the brasses. However after an extensive and tasteful refurbishment I don’t expect to see my horse brass nailed to any beam soon!

I was hoping to find a brass featuring a horse or horseshoe, but alas no. A pub with a name The Rugged Staff, The Cross Keys, The Anchor, The Bull or The Stag would have been lucky. I chose a pretty star surrounded by trefoils and added ribbons and handwritten label. Voila! another brass leaves the kennel.

Wishing The White Horse every success. There doesn’t appear to be a new website yet, but publican Alison already has The Kings Arms and Port Of Call in Bristol. I think it may be just a little bit TOO easy to stroll the 200 yards up the road away from my own kitchen!

Horse Brass Stash,Rocking Dog

Horse Brass Stash

Make An Envelope,Rocking Dog

Make An Envelope

Piggy Invite,Rocking Dog

Piggy Invite

Rocking Dog Thinks Ahead To A Chocolatey Easter!

Are You Ready For An Egg Hunt? Rocking Dog

Are You Ready For An Egg Hunt?

I got a little bit carried away thinking about a chocolatey Easter. The vibrant blossom everywhere set me mulling over all those forthcoming opportunities to gather flowers, select pretty foil wrapped eggs and making indulgent Rocking Dog bakes for friends and neighbours. Admittedly Easter is still a little way away but there is nothing wrong with a little bit of planning, hunting and gathering! As we left Umbria our local patisserie Michele & Co was beginning to put out Easter loveliness. Crisp white tissue papered packages were embellished with silk flowers, wool, lace, ribbon and twine. His styling is inspirational as are his delicious sweet offerings.

Yesterday I made pretty lined bags for going on a future egg hunt. Gingham was selected as the structured pattern is perfect to use as guidelines for sewing lines of braid and ribbons. I added appliqué eggs and the linings came from a vintage embroidered tablecloth. The bags constructed, I used lace for handles and finally sewed some pretty vintage buttons for extra frou factor.

My favourite garden in the village is in full flourish. It is wild and lovely. Narcissi, Tete de Tete, Daffodils and Fritillaria push through the grass in generous clumps. The garden is bordered by Japonica, Camelia, Catkin and fruit trees. Its organic wild nature makes me smile… always. After cutting back hedges neatly in Italy I had that moment of bad haircut regret! A degree of shagginess and un-eveness definitely gives a garden an air of mystery and romance. This local garden has romance and whimsy aplenty. I can definitely imagine a good egg hunt there.

Oooh I feel a Chocolat moment coming on!

By the way the next Rocking Dog creative Huddle will be on Wednesday 29th March 7-9pm. All welcome. Delicious homemade cake, chat and creativity. Donations into the teapot with a percentage to Fine Cell Work supporting prison inmates to sew wonderful things.

Spring Branches,Rocking Dog

Spring Branches

My Blooming Garden,Rocking Dog

My Blooming Garden

Favourite Garden,Rocking Dog

Favourite Garden

Easter Kitsch,Rocking Dog

Easter Kitsch

Embellished Brownies,Rocking Dog

Embellished Brownies

Vintage Stash,Rocking Dog

Vintage Stash

Michele's Easter Frou!,Rocking Dog

Michele’s Easter Frou!

Calorie Free!,Rocking Dog

Calorie Free!

They're Going On An Egg Hunt!, Rocking Dog

They’re Going On An Egg Hunt!

Rocking Dog’s Taste Of Spring In Umbria

Eating Alfresco In The Garden,Rocking Dog

Eating Alfresco In The Garden

Rocking Dog went to check on the olives. In Umbria the land is awakening and Spring has arrived. Fields have been tilled, the rich earth is the colour of ground Cinnamon. Soon the land will be planted with sunflowers, artichokes, maize and pumpkins. Gnarled old vines have been viciously pruned and tied tightly to their support wires. Soon leaves will sprout and in the autumn the vines will hang heavy with luscious black fruit. In the groves there is the noise of tractors, the smell of bonfires and the clip, clip, clip of the olive trees being harshly cut back. There are the sound of happy voices from 8 until 1 when the workers head off for their three hour siesta.

Spectacularly yellow Mimosa trees are in full bloom and look heavenly against the impossibly blue March skies. Cherry blossom, Magnolias and Camelias ornament many Umbrian gardens. Vast patches of wild violets, flowering rosemary and spring bulbs add to the feeling that Spring has indeed arrived.

Andyman and I worked enthusiastically on house and garden. Kitchen chairs were painted Macaw Green, Mister David and Drawing Room Blue, pictures were hung, Wifi installed and storage was tediously organised. In the garden hedges were trimmed and leaves swept. Olive trees were stripped of their suckers and Cypress trees worryingly counted (16). I think we need to make good friends with a tree surgeon and his cherry picker sometime very soon!

We did manage to escape to Rome briefly for the rugby and had a wonderful midnight stroll around the city. Bathed in atmospheric lighting and with an inky starry sky it was all very magical.

Somewhere along the line I completely forgot to eat ice cream during our two week stay….another time! We did however manage to eat one or two meals alfresco, it was an unexpected sun basked treat.

After the very long drive home it was lovely to see England verdantly spring like. Rhubarb, Tete de Tete, Japonica, Forsythia, limey green Spurge and hellebores are burgeoning after their winter slumbers.

I hope you have a great week and hope that there is chance to witness everything glorious about spring. Love Rocking Dog x

PS Looking forward to meeting our new close-ish neighbour Ed (Sheeran). Maybe he has a spare cherry picker kicking around!

Mimosa, Rocking Dog

Mimosa

Flower Strewn Bun,Rocking Dog

Flower Strewn Bun

Spring In His Step,Rocking Dog

Spring In His Step

Whispering Reeds,Rocking Dog

Whispering Reeds

Room With A View,Rocking Dog

Room With A View

Letting Spring In,Rocking Dog

Letting Spring In

Spring Night In Rome,Rocking Dog

Spring Night In Rome

Sunset .....,Rocking Dog

Sunset …..

& Moon Rise,Rocking Dog

& Moon Rise