Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A special aunt

As we all (especially those in the craft community who've been making for it for ages) know, it's Mother's Day this coming Sunday 18th March in the UK.  I'm looking forward to celebrating with my daughter who is taking me ten pin bowling - here's hoping she lets me win!

My own mum died over twenty years ago but I still have someone special in my life and that's my lovely aunt Irene.  Here's a picture of her with my mum (the chubby baby) and their brother, my lovely Uncle Don.  Sadly, he's not around either and is very much missed too.

We don't see each other very much because she lives over 3000 miles away in the US having been a GI bride to George whom she met during World War II.  She's always said she was one of the lucky ones as this move did not work out for many girls who dated the American soldiers.  This is my favourite picture of the two of them which sits on my windowsill at home.

Although my aunt has, like me, done lots of knitting over the years, she now specialises in quilting and has a cupboard full of the most amazing works of art.  Here's two examples.  She still quilts every day, enters competitions and, as you can see, wins prizes.

As it happens it's her birthday on Monday so, although I don't have a mum to make for, I thought I'd make her a special card to celebrate.  Having had good feedback on the knitted butterfly which featured in my last blog I was keen to give another one a go so today out came the very thin needles and the very thin yarn (a silk and mohair mix) and this is the result (I've popped it into one of my custom made frames).

The fabric is part of a collection I bought from at a fabulous fabric sale held at Farnham Maltings in January.  They're all combinations of blues and golden yellow - very springlike I thought and especially now with the daffodils out and the glimpses (or more) of blue sky.  So I'm going to make some more of these and bring them as a collection to my first event of the year - Craft in Focus's Contemporary Craft and Design Fair to be held at RHS Garden Wisley from 3rd - 7th May.  Don't miss it!

If you too have a special aunt and would like one of these cards just email me on  Until next time, lots of love, Alison.

Monday, 5 March 2012


Well my butterfly blog's been ridiculously delayed - maybe the caterpillars got too cosy in the crysallises - so that's one New Year's resolution broken already.

 They do seem to have been present in my life quite a lot lately.  When it first opened Rebecca and I went to visit the butterflies in the glasshouse at Wisley - as you know it's one of my favourite places.  Well, they were not small critters, believe me, but huge wings, gorgeous decorations, giant antennae. Incredible. If you don't like things fluttering around you then it's probably not for you but it will be back next year and is well worth a visit.  One of the interesting things we found out was that they can see colour so I guess being in amongst all those tropical flowers must be a bit like a high for them.  Despite the species in this country being somewhat smaller, their delicacy is, for me, part of their attractiveness and they're a lot less in your face.  It was great to read the other day that in Norfolk they're planning to create more reed beds for commercial cutting.  Not only will this encourage more (and especially rare) butterflies such as swallowtails back but will also provide the necessary material for thatching from this country and thus cut down on imported material.  A great way to keep another traditional skill alive.  After the balmy weather recently I wouldn't have been surprised to see a few fluttering round my garden but given today's chill wind I fear that's now a little optimistic.  So in the meantime I've been admiring butterflies of a different kind.

Julia Davey is a ceramicist I whose work I love and I was lucky enough to receive a set of her porcelain butterflies as a birthday present last year.  Just look at the delicacy of these - they are wafer thin.

Last year I bought some lovely butterfly buttons from Melissa's Ceramics and created textile pictures using them as a feature.  Here's a couple of examples.  Just recently she's added some new designs to her collection in different sizes so I'll be ordering some of those to use for new spring designs which will be perfect for my stall at this spring's Craft in Focus Contemporary Craft Fair at Wisley which runs from 3rd-7th May.

I've also tried knitting one to use in the same way.  This was made on 2mm knitting needles using very fine yarn and was very fiddly to make but I think some of these would add some welcome additional texture to my cards and pictures.

And these two were made from fabric using Clover's butterfly maker.  They need some bodies and antennae!

And now it's back to the knitting.  Lots of love Alison xx