Sunday, 3 March 2013

Everything's coming up roses

Red Roses

The first roses are these lovely red ones that Mark brought me in the week - for no reason other than he thought I needed cheering up!

red roses

ah, must be love!

More roses: felt flowers with the Bath WI

I really like the Bath WI. It is very unlike the traditional image of the Women's Institute (somewhat elderly ladies singing Jerusalem and snoring through boring slide shows). I suspect I am one of the older members and, although sometimes I do feel like I am the only 40-something woman in Bath who does not have children, it is really relaxed and a good laugh. While there are groups of friends who understandably want to catch up, everyone mingles. No matter who you sit next to, you can pretty much guarantee they will be interesting, friendly and chatty. So now I have the monthly meeting on the first Wednesday of each month and the WI book club on the third Wednesday of every month and in the last week of the month the WI craft evening.

Thursday's craft evening was with Eirlys at Scrapiana - she of the teapot I was drooling over last week! It was such a nice group of women at Jika Jika (which was lovely - really nice airy place, the coffee was delicious and I was eying up the food - I think I must go back there with Mark for something to eat sometime) and Eirlys is really good at showing you what you need to know and helping if anyone got stuck, but all without feeling like a teacher. It was more like an evening out with friends where we just happened to learn to make some really simple but effective felt flowers. I had a couple of rather low days in the week (I blame that bout of flu/chest infection and the prednisolone after effects) but came away from the evening later than I had expected, with a big grin on my face - some lovely people and a bit of cutting, stitching and gluing is clearly the best medicine.

some of the WI crafters

These are the flowers I made - and was allowed to take home:

felt flowers
The blue and green roses at the front are a spiral cut from a circle of felt and rolled up. Rather than going in to details here, have a look at Betz White's piece about them in her beautifully named 'stitch beautifully...tread lightly' blog, as she was Eirlys' inspiration for the roses.

loopy felt chrysanthemum

Eirlys also has a lovely Scrapiana blog and there is a tutorial on making the chrysanthemums - really easy; give it a go! (and check out the rest of the blog while you're there - there's loads of lovely stuff). Incidentally, Eirlys is showing people how to make felt chrysanthemums at the Craft Tea Party at Green Park, Bath, for International Women's Day on Saturday 9th March, 2-5pm. A £5 donation to Oxfam (Eirlys is donating her time and materials) will see you making and taking home your very own brooch (as well as a nice warm feeling for helping a good cause). Contact her through her website if you would like to reserve a place, there's a phone number on her classes page.

felt pompom-esque flower
The final style of flower we made comes from Ruth Singer who has lots of creative pieces on her blog and has written a book called 'Sew It Up' (which I just ordered on Amazon!), and I understand she has another book due out soon.

Shabby chic Ellen Mouse

Thursday's flower making has encroached in to my other sewing, and my latest Ellen Mouse has taken on something of a shabby chic air! Her little flower brooch is made from tiny remnants from the Silk Mill at Whitchurch in Hampshire.

shabby chic Ellen Mouse
I got a bit carried away, and this Ellen even has frilly lace smalls!
frilly mouse knickers

Garden flowers

Yesterday turned out quite sunny so took the flower and mouse photos in the garden, and was amazed at how far out the Spring bulbs and blossoms are.

The dwarf flowering cherry outside the kitchen window is starting to blossom and will soon be beautiful. It always makes me smile, not least from memories of sniggering with my sister at the garden centre where my mum asked the young chap watering the plants, "Excuse me, do you have a small prunus?" How he kept a straight face when Helen and I were failing to smother our smutty double-entendre guffaws I'll never know!

a small prunus

The crocus are taking over the garden, like a miniature version of the day of the triffids!

purple crocus

miniature triffid
The daffodils are almost out, but at this point the cats decided I was not paying enough attention to them and Rio once again got in the frame.

cat and daffodil
Rio the cat
Max the cat

 The miniature daffs at the bottom of the garden, under the big cherry tree are farther along.

mini daffodils
I do hope the birds use the bird box this year - it is now nicely weathered and quite high up, away from the cats.

 A walk around Bailbrook

As it was so nice and sunny yesterday, Mark suggested a bit of a walk. There are lots of nice walks from our house and we chose the walk up through Bailbrook, past the 'tin church'.

Bailbrook, Bath

It must have been so noisy when it rained during services!

Bailbrook tin church, Bath
Along the lane the banks were covered with drifts of snowdrops - hard to see the detail in the photo; sorry I only took my phone.

Bath snowdrops


Cornish Fairings

All the exertion called for some baking - Cornish fairings (melt 100g butter with 100g golden caster sugar and 2 tbsp golden syrup, then sieve in 175g self-raising flour, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp mixed spice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Mix well and dollop teaspoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet. Squish down the dollops a little with the spoon and bake for 8 to 10 mins at 180C in a pre-heated oven. Cool on a wire rack.)

Cornish fairings

Today I am torn between putting time in to my part-finished quilt and making some more felt flowers...I would like to try adding some tiny beads. A cup of coffee first and then I'll decide.


  1. Ah, lovely, Sue! Those spring flowers really gladden the heart. I love the tin church too. Such an extraordinary building, though I've never been inside. Have you?

    Thank you for such a lovely write-up of the WI craft night. It was a really fun evening. I hope to spend more time with the WI-ers. In fact, I think I may be coming along to show some more examples of upcycled makes at your next meeting.

    And I really hope people will drop in to make a loopy flower corsage on Saturday afternoon at the the Oxfam Craft-Tea Party. To avoid disappointment, you can reserve a space ahead of time. Details over here:

    Would you mind if I use a quote from your summation of the evening and use it on my blog? I'll link back to yours, obviously. You put it all so nicely, and I'm really grateful. :))

    1. Thanks Eirlys - feel free to quote away.

      I haven't been inside the church, but I would like to.

  2. I rather envy you the WI group - I think it's lovely to meet people with the same interest and to make things together. I'd love a "knit'n'natter" group here in Lund, for example. The flowers are lovely!! And so is Ellen mouse! Have you set up en etsy shop?

    Your spring is come much further than here in Sweden, but we too are having lovely sunny weather today - and I picked my first snowdrops!

    The biscuits look jummy - I think I will have a spot of baking myself. I am thinking along the lines of chocolate muffins, perhaps.

    1. Chocolate muffins sound gooooood!

      I haven't set up an Etsy shop yet. It makes sense tax-wise to wait until I finish at the Commission before starting selling. I am giving myself a few weeks after Easter to get the decorating and gardening done before I put all my energies in to a business, as I know it will not happen otherwise. I think it important to make a good first impression, so I want to have enough variety of stock for an Etsy shop to look good when it opens and to be able to restock if anything sells. I also need to have a chat with my local trading standards office to make sure my CE mark documentation is up to scratch and to check there is no other legislation I have missed. Although I only expect to be really small scale, I still want to do it right.

  3. PS Ellen Mouse is very cute. Is she destined for a particular owner? And do you ever sell them? Must try your Cornish fairings recipe - my mouth's watering.

  4. Thanks - yes, I made a mouse for one of my friend's daughter when I visited Sweden last year and, as her daughter is called Ellen, the mouse has been called Ellen too. The friend recently asked if I could make another one. I am making them for friends, but I am not marketing them or anything until I finish work and register as self-employed. I am reluctant to make too many different toys to sell as I am aware that EU regulations need toys to be CE marked, which means testing and documenting. I think some people mark them as not being toys, but as I understand the regulations, anything a child might reasonably think is a toy is a treated as a toy, no matter what disclaimer you put on it. I have heard of Trading Standards buying handmade toys at craft markets and online and testing them...not only do I not want to get the wrong side of the law, I couldn't live with myself if a child choked on something I made or got burnt because it wasn't sufficiently flame resistant. I'm rambling on now, but the short answer is I do hope to sell them once I have tax and safety stuff completely worked out. I think it will be a matter of trial and error finding a balance between things I enjoy making and things that sell, and things that I can actually make a profit on. Of course I might not manage to sell anything!

    The cornish fairings are fab - Mark ate a load, his parents had some and I always take some of my baking to a couple of elderly neighbours who seemed to enjoy them too. I like that they are so quick and easy to make (with very little washing up!)

  5. Great blog, love the spring flowers and your mouse. Am also gonna try the biccies. Id love to join a WI group, but the local ones in Sheffield are a bit too political for me! :o)

    1. Thanks Jo. It's a shame about your local WI...and I guess Bath is a bit of a way to come! I think the group I go to is relatively new, which is perhaps why it is able to be a bit different - could you gather up a few friends and start a new branch? I hope you find/start a nice group - and enjoy the biscuits!

  6. The roses are sooo beautiful!! And I do love those felted flowers, think I must try some of them one day - or your pop over to Sweden and we can have a making flower-teraphy session, maybe with some yoyo:s involved!
    The daffodils and crocuses are lovely and I am so much looking forward to see them here as well.

    1. I have such warm memories of sitting in your lovely kitchen making yo-yos - I would love to spend more time there making flowers (could there be Swedish sunshine cake???)

      I hope the Spring flowers are soon out in Sweden.

  7. What a lovely long chatty post :) And lovely to see a corner of Bath too ... I did a chunk of my growing up there!

    1. Thanks Annie. As a Bristol girl swore I would never live in Bath - thought the people were too posh! Bath really feels like home now though (and they are not all posh...)

  8. su you aske the title of a knitting book when we wer at W.I. last night. It is A little course in Knitting by Dorling Kindersly. Elaine

    1. Thanks Elaine - that's great; I will check it out!

  9. Hi Sue, I really enjoyed reading your blog which I found while tentatively checking out the Bath WI. As the other 40 something woman in Bath with no children :) I might give it a go. Love your crafty projects.

    1. Hi Angela - thanks! Do come along to the WI, I think it's great. This month (this Wednesday, 1st May) we are having a guided tour around the newly extended - and not yet open to the public - number 1 Royal Crescent, which I am really looking forward to. They do need to know numbers, but you could let them know via the Bath WI website or facebook page - and you can go to meetings as a guest (there's a charge - but I think it's only about £4) before you join, to see if you like it.

      Hope to see you a the WI,

    2. Hi Sue - sadly I'm not around on Wednesday which is a shame as I really would have enjoyed that. I'm definitely thinking of joining though - 'specially for all the lovely crafty stuff. I'll keep an eye on the website to see when the next event is.

    3. That's a shame - there are bound to be other meetings of interest though and there is usually advance notice on the website.