Tag Archives: Julie Penney

Hollyhocks & Criminal Ladies

Profusion Of Hollyhocks and Criminals!, Rocking Dog

Profusion Of Hollyhocks and Criminals!

Good morning from Rocking Dog, I hope you have had a good weekend. I was in London over the weekend attending the Anniversary Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The stadium now has its new livery of maroon and sky blue, West Ham FC now in residence. Although it was great to see Usain Bolt run, a world record being won (Kendra Harrison USA 100m hurdles) and a host of paralympic events (Please Watch this amazing link), the weekend wasn’t all about athletics.

A very balmy Thursday evening was spent on the roof terrace of my brother in law’s workplace. We enjoyed cocktails and fabulous views across the Thames to St Paul’s and beyond. It is such a beautiful cityscape, though we spent some time discussing what Christopher Wren would make of his city. Friday morning, me, my girls and nieces headed to Bermondsey market. Sorrel and I, ever eagle eyed spotted some truly yummy embroidery. The owner obviously loved it and told us that she’d put an inflated price on it in an attempt never to find a buyer for it. Evidently she was genuinely keen to hang onto it. I adored the bold stitchery of the hollyhocks, delphinium spire, pansies, marigolds, phlox and billy-button daisies. I went to sit on a bench to deliberate and cogitate! Sorrel and one niece then went off to seal the asking price deal. The stall holder was somewhat shocked and crestfallen when she saw them approach, cash in hand. She asked if she could have an hour to come to terms with selling it, but eventually agreed on a 10 minute stalling period. If you are reading this blog piece Mrs stall holder……thank you so much for begrudgingly parting with it! It will be Sooooooo truly loved!

I think the piece probably dates from the 1930’s and is currently a slip cover for a large bolster style cushion. After careful consideration, in Rocking Dog’s hands it will more than likely become an exquisite central panel for a quilt. I propose surrounding it with vintage floral fabrics together with 20’s-30 embroidered pieces and fabulous vintage braids. As you probably know Rocking Dog has a penchant for embroidery, and loves a tray cloth, tablecloth or serviette to reconfigure. I will steadily accumulate materials to work towards starting this project. I want to find beautiful cottons and the like which help to celebrate the central panel.

Maybe some of the pieces I will use in the quilt will be iconic 20’s /30’s Crinoline lady embroidery. Between the wars cheerful embroidery was undertaken, sometimes using iron on transfers. Crinoline ladies, flowers and garden subjects were all popular at the time. In addition a whole variety of housewares were available with images of crinoline ladies from table linen, paper and foil crafts, china to early plastics. In our household crinoline ladies have always been called criminal ladies. Sorrel as a child misheard what these vintage ladies were called, so criminal they have remained.

Cumbersome, with steel or whale bone hooped cages the Victorian crinoline was a hazard to wear. Women died or were left badly burnt if they happened to brush against a fire or if a hot ember landed on the multi layers of fabric. In addition, their dresses could get caught in factory machinery or the wheels of a carriage. One woman in 1885 however luckily survived as a result of her crinoline. Sarah Ann Henley, a barmaid working in a public house in Ashton, Bristol had her engagement broken off, in despair she decided to throw herself off the Clifton Suspension Bridge. She survived the 246ft (75 metres) drop because her crinoline acted as a parachute. Sarah went onto marry and lived to the ripe old age of 85yrs. Another interesting fact is that the little Unitarian Chapel in Frenchay, Bristol has a crinoline door. The doorway is wider at the bottom than the top, so as to allow crinoline wearing church goers to pass into the chapel easily.

The hollyhocks part of this post is a bargainous curtain I bought yesterday in John Lewis, Westfield. A display curtain I have several metres of fabric for little more than the cost of a metre. The fabric is “Hollyhocks” by Sanderson and is based on a documented design from 1937. I have a cunning plan that I would like to make a fabulously flamboyant floral coat to attend Chelsea Flower Show 2017. I love Kaffe Fassett’s tapestry hollyhocks (sadly REALLY financially out of my league!) but am very fond of Julie Penney’s reworked vintage piece with it’s cheery hollyhocks and stitchery.

Tyeing crinoline ladies and hollyhocks together, very often these embroidered bonneted ladies are to be found tending spires of brightly coloured hollyhocks.

Now then just where is my bonnet .. so I can go and tend my unruly plot!

Have a great start to the week.

Yummy Embroidery , Rocking Dog

Yummy Embroidery

Sanderson Hollyhocks, Rocking Dog

Sanderson Hollyhocks

Criminal Ladies, Rocking Dog

Criminal Ladies

Floribunda, Rocking Dog


Julie's Flowers, Rocking Dog

Julie’s Flowers

China Can, Rocking Dog

China Can

Edwardian Gardener, Rocking Dog

Edwardian Gardener

Kaffe's Hollyhocks, Rocking Dog

Kaffe’s Hollyhocks

Crinoline Doorway, Rocking Dog

Crinoline Doorway

Rocking Dog Loves Floral Loveliness!

Rare Orchid, Rocking Dog

Rare Orchid

I am no minimalist and I love flowers on anything and everything! I thought i’d share some particular favourites of mine.

The orchid vase has been with me now for about twenty five years and like the Honiton vases and the Meissen piece pictured below, all came from the now obsolete Hope Chapel Saturday Market in Hotwells, Bristol. The market for in excess of 35 years was part of our every other Saturday routine, both B.C. (before children) and A.C. (after children). Our house is filled with Hotwells’ buys, small pieces of furniture, Pawnbrokers balls, jewellery, ornaments, fabric and clothing. Even whilst living in Germany my mother would send me letters telling me of her purchases from the Saturday market. I’d simply wish myself there! Coffee and cake time at the chapel would see the family de-newspapering purchases, discussing the age, use and beauty of an item. The children grew up with Hotwells and enjoyed the freedom to browse and buy independently. Oilily clothes, toys, books and games all came into our household at bargainous prices. How I lament the loss of the market now that the chapel has returned to its original purpose.

Back to the orchid vase, I love it! I know nothing of its provenance, there are no marks on its base and I think it’s probably an amateur hand painted piece. My father bought it for me as a Birthday present and I have a feeling that it was about £15. It’s just simply very cheery and characterful especially when it is filled with equally cheery flowers.

The Meissen piece I fell in love with instantly, loving all its three dimensional flowers and fruit, together with hand painted insects. It had taken a bit of a bashing prior to my owning it, with some of the fragile blooms having been restored somewhat shabbily. I realise that I am never going to be in the league to own a perfect piece of Meissen, thus I am happy to covet this piece. I particularly love the Columbine flowers and wild strawberries. Again, this was a birthday present from my dear dad. It cost around £40 and is now worth considerably more, but as the people on Antiques Roadshow nearly always say “I’d never sell it”!

The little vintage textile picture is by Julie Penney of Aunt Jane’s Attic. Being a sentimental old so and so, I love the stories connected with some of Julie’s pieces. She made the rash and bold decision a few years ago to move from the North to the Jurassic coast and now sells her wares in Bridport and beyond.

Finally the Honiton vases, I bought these at Hotwells when I was in my teens. I think they were quite a grown up purchase and I remember my parents loaning me some money so that I could buy them. I am surprised that despite in excess of seven house moves, three boisterous children and a ball loving dog they have survived unscathed! I love the muted simplicity of the vases’ decoration, which includes the papery Honesty seed heads.

Message for the children- when I am dead and buried do not feel sentimental about my floral china pots. Please feel free to sell them and buy something YOU like. Feel it’s vitally important to say that.. in all Honesty!

Magical Meissen, Rocking Dog

Magical Meissen

Julie Penney's Vintage Garden, Rocking Dog

Julie Penney’s Vintage Garden

Honiton Honesty, Rocking Dog

Honiton Honesty