Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas Presents!

I think it's lovely to give presents that you have made yourself or someone else has made. This 'Frothy Scarf' is a Rowan pattern I started a while ago and had decided that it should be a gift for my Mum this Christmas. Unfortunately I left it till the last minute to pick up and knit the frothy frill around the outside and was up quite late on Christmas Eve finishing it! (Does anyone else leave their knitting around for a while before finishing it?) It was worth it though as Mum is very pleased with it and teenage daughter has decided she wants me to make her one in a different colour, but cannot quite decide whether she wants a frill on it or not.

Another gift I gave, this time to my daughter, was a brass locket containing an embroidered feather which was made by Melissa Wastney of Tiny Happy Blog. I can highly recommend her blog and also her etsy shop in which I find lovely presents for special occasions:

Friday, 17 December 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry

Last night we met at Darcy's house for our book group and the book chosen to read and for discussion this month was 'Her Fearful Symmetry' by Audrey Niffenegger. As it is nearly Christmas there were quiet a few nice chocolate treats and drinking wine before we got down to discussing the book.
One of the attractions of the book was that the story is centred around Highgate Cemetery in London as one or two people had been there and said that it was a definite 'must do' when visiting London. Jenny brought a book about the cemetery with wonderful photographs which we all had a look at and thought that some of the photos were very reminiscent of Dr Who!
Without spoiling the story it revolves around two sets of twins, one of which inherit their aunt's house close to Highgate cemetery in which they must live for a year, but in which their mother and father cannot step foot in.
Opinion was quite divided about the book some of us really enjoyed it but others found it difficult to enter into the book's divergence from reality.
Personally I really enjoyed the book (more than Audrey Niffenegger's first book 'The Time Traveller's Wife') and felt that it was well written and found the juxtaposing theme of confinement and freedom explored in the book really interesting.
This is a good book to read around Christmas time with it's Gothic, ghostly story and setting.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Two winners........

Apologies for not posting straight away this weekend about the card giveaway but I have been in bed with a horrible cold. Anyway - I decided that since I was starting to feel quite festive (even though the only Christmas decoration I have had the strength to put out at the moment is my little Murano glass Christmas tree!), I would pick out two random winners of the cards. So the first name out was Darcy and the second one out was Kristina. So if you could please send me your address as soon as possible to: jacquidodds(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk I will get them out in the post before the last Christmas posting dates.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Venetian Blue giveaway!

To celebrate my two year anniversary of blogging and also opening my Folksy shop I am having a giveaway of some of my cards. They are all individually hand screen printed by me in the studio and are blank inside for your own message. The cards come in a cellophane wrapper and are supplied with a best quality envelope, to see the full range please click here.

I am giving away a pack of three cards - either:
'Florentine Lilies' - pink/magenta
'Reflecting Winter & Spring' - on grey card
'Snowdrops' - aqua green
Or - one of each

To enter please leave a comment on this blog post by Friday 10th December and let me know which pack of three cards is your favourite and I will randomly pick the winner from the comments left.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Leaf patterns and La Casita

While out for a walk last week I took the above photo of autumn leaves on the ground as I thought I might use the patterns for inspiration.
Also I bought this needlecase from Alessandra of La Casita blog:

The very cute needlecase is lined in Liberty bicycles fabric which was designed by Grayson Perry:

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Happy Birthday Mum!

It has recently been my Mum's birthday and above is the flower bouquet which I sent her and included some of my favourite flowers - freesias. Another of her presents was this lovely purse, which Mum was delighted with,I bought the purse from Melissa Wastney of Tiny Happy:

I thought I would take this opportunity to show you some paintings which my Mum made a while ago that continue the theme of this blog post which seems to revolve around flowers:

Saturday, 16 October 2010


This is a giveaway on my Art Blog of my latest print which is shown above. This is to celebrate two years of blogging. If you would like to be included in the draw for the giveway please follow the link here.
I will be posting another giveaway soon on this blog to celebrate its blog anniversary too.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Florence by train

One of the great things about travelling around Tuscany by train is the unexpected views of all the lovely towns and villages dotted around the countryside. Unfortunately I don't know the name of the hillside town above, if anyone does please let me know.
We walked from the main train station, Santa Maria Novella into the city of Florence. Luckily I remembered my way to the centre after last visiting Florence four years ago. There were many people in the city so we had to weave our way through them and then we caught a glimpse of the Duomo in the sunshine:

A view of the magnificent facade of the cathedral:

The exterior marble on the cathedral was not added until the 19th century, although it does not look much different to the campanile designed and built by Giotto much earlier in the 14th century:

The impressive fortified Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence:

The Ponte Vecchio:

The back of the Uffizi art gallery which was once the administrative offices for the Medici family:

The magnificent 'Gates of Paradise' doors of the Baptistery designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti and made in his workshop. These doors are actually reproductions and the originals are being kept and restored in the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore (the Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) which is also worth a visit too:

You cannot help but gaze in wonder at the cathedral dome designed and built by Brunelleschi, who incidentally lost out to Ghiberti in a competition to design and build the doors of the Baptistery. The dome of the Duomo is one of the famous landmarks in Florence and it was Brunelleschi's genius that enabled the dome to be made when no one else at that time had any idea how to build it. You can climb up its 463 steps for a magnificent view of Florence, however luckily we did not have time to do this as I am not sure that I could have done this without feeling dizzy :

Over on my art blog I have a giveway of one of my prints, please click here for more details.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Lucca, Italy

Lucca has to be one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. We visited last month when we were staying in Tuscany on the coast at Viareggio. It was only 15 minutes by train from our resort and was the first time that we had used the Italian railway. The service was very good, but you must remember to validate your ticket in a machine before boarding the train, which is something we do not have to do here in England.

It is a medieval walled city - you may explore inside the walls if you wish to. We chose to walk around the town at our leisure. The streets are very narrow and we were suprised to see cars driving around, although it looked like there was quite a complicated one-way system in force - so it might be better to park and walk anyway! What did surprise us was how many people were using bikes, although great to see people not using cars there were far too many really as you had to be really careful not to be run down by them!

I think this was the impressive entrance to a (ex) tobacco/cigarette/cigar factory:

Beautiful features all over the city:

I was very inspired by Lucca and hope to return one day. There has been a lack of posts recently as we have had problems with the computer. However, hopefully things are back to normal now. This has meant that I have not been able to post about the fact that it is the second anniversary of my blogging. So in the next few weeks I will be having a (belated) giveaway on here and my other blog which is also two years old.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Making journals

I have been involved in running workshops in a secondary school, see some details here, and decided to make some journals that the students could keep and record their art work in.

Decided to start by printing some ideas for covers for these journals and used my Venetian Windows print on brown paper for the first one:

Then I thought I could use my Florentine Lilies print for another cover and started printing out one of the designs:

Added the second print:

This is the first journal cover made along with the paper printed for the second journal:

Friday, 21 May 2010

New Goodies!

I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time this week as one of my favourite textile designers Jane Lindsey was hosting giveaways on her Snapdragon Facebook page. Jane gave up her job as an art gallery curator, retrained in horticulture, moved to a smallholding in Stirlingshire where she set up a flower growing business and creating embroidered textiles. Jane regularly posts about her life on her blog Snapdragon's garden where you can also find some good advice about running small businesses as well as links to buying her work.

Anyway as I said I just happened to be at my computer when Jane was giving away this lovely 'Strawberry Jam' notebook cover (usually her jam notebook covers feature 'Raspberry Jam'). My fingers could not type quick enough as I had seen her lovely notebook covers in local galleries and I was lucky enough to be the first commenter. I also manged to snap up the wool behind it so that I can put my own sewing skills to the test.

The next day Jane was giving away more goodies and I managed to win this lovely corsage which I think I shall give to my daughter as she is the fashion expert in our house and I felt a bit greedy keeping everything myself:

Also in the post this week came these lovely cards which I purchased from another favourite textile designer Melissa Wastney of Tiny Happy. There are more of these cards to buy in Melissa's etsy shop. It is four years since Melissa from New Zealand started her Tiny Happy blog and business and to celebrate she is having a really great giveaway on her blog.