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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Here are a few of my favourite things...

One of the best things about taking Halfpenny Home out and about to a craft fair is the packing up of all our most favourite things...this Aspalls bag has been used an awful lot and not always just for the lovely Aspalls Cyder bottles it was originally designed to carry - it's also perfect for transporting the handpainted knitting needles that we love using!

It was my turn to choose which of our favourite goodies from HH HQ I wanted to take along to the Saint's Fair in Ipswich, a BRILLIANT craft fair organised by the rather wonderful Jess and Chris combo imakefunstuff - it's always a lot of fun!

As you can see I decided to show off just some of the ribbons, ric rac and trimmings that we have along with some rather wonderful Knit Collage and Gedgrave Flock yarns!
It was lovely to meet people that had read about Jacqui and I in the EADT piece by Steven Russell 'The Tweeter and the Tax Investigator' BUT the highlight (for me!) was meeting up with a fellow Tweeter @katiewardwriter ! Katy has just had her first novel Girl Reading published and as we are all local writers Ipswich Waterstones have been so very supportive and organised events for us!
Twitter brings the most unlikely people together - crafty girl meets a proper author! Katie is as lovely in real life as she is on Twitter! (as this bit of the blog is all about my obsession with twitter I should add a :-) right about now...) as I also met up with @katyark who I have met a lot in real life but didn't realise she was her...and she dodged the camera, tsk!

Look at those scrumptious yarns...irresistable!

The other great bit of Sunday was that on arrival I found that the HH stall was right next to a great friend of both Jacqui and I! Anita is a glass blower and she runs amazing workshops where you can transform old glass into beautiful pieces of art for your home!

Some of the fantastic cheeseboards that Anita makes from old wine bottles.

All this socialising and chatting about craft can build up quite an appetite but I never bother with taking along a picnic (unusual for me!) for the Saint's Fair as the food on sale there is always fab!
The lovely stallholders even delivered...

What a lovely day, Nic x

Monday, 20 June 2011

Midsummer Makes!

On Sunday a delegation from HH HQ hit Cambridge, on a mission!

Tipped off by Harriet, who had previously attended Rachel's stoneware day course, four of us eagerly set off at a very civilised 8.45am to travel to Rachel Dormor's Cambridge Studio for a porcelain handbuilding workshop.

Rachel's beautiful work greeted us as we entered her studio - amid welcoming wafts of freshly brewed coffee.

After introductions and a brief round table explanation of our previous clay experiences (most of which hark back to our school days) we began..........

Rachel started by explaining the basics and giving us all what looked like a camembert to work with. Our weapon of choice: a rolling pin!

Rachel has the most beautiful set of printer's letters which I couldn't wait to delve into...once I had made something to impress them into!

How pretty are these little ceramic stamps too?

Our first 'creation' was a handbuilt porcelain jug. It was a little tricky to get it to stand on it's own but with a little help and encouragement from Rachel, it was there. The pattern is acheived with embossed fresco wallpaper! We also all did a vase or jug using a former to wrap the porcelain around too.

Here's the class results: How amazing that we all did the same thing but ended up with so many wonderful variations. With them safely stowed ready for firing, Rachel advised us to stop for some lunch. The morning had just whizzed by.

As ever at HH, lunch is a carefully planned affair. We had Nic's homemade scotch eggs - made fresh that morning, falafel, Sam's homemade hummus, bread, olives and sundried tomatoes. Washed down with my homemade elderflower cordial and followed by a fantastic array of cakes baked by Kay (Lady Galula Eclectic Cakes) and kindly supplied by Harriet! Yum! Sorry that the pic is on the "huh"!!

Feeling very full, we packed away the picnic knowing that we had the afternoon to create away using the techniques we'd learned in the morning. Having seen Rachel's article for espresso cups in Making Magazine, I just had to have a go. And, I just had to use the letters too! OK, so they are a little tall for espresso cups!

Fingers crossed that they survive intact! Though I'm not sure I will ever bring myself to make them dirty! It was a fab day - we did so much in a day and Rachel was a brilliant and inspiring teacher. It was lovely to have such a creative day surrounded by friends and fellow creatives.

I even made Rory a little "woof" ceramic star in celebration of his little win at the local dog show at our village Midsummer Fayre on Saturday. He came third in the puppy class! There were some beautiful puppies there - all shapes and sizes and numbering in excess of 20 I would say. So I was pretty proud puppy owner!

As usual, Rory looks pretty non-plussed about the whole affair!

Hope you enjoyed a creative Midsummer weekend.

Jacqui x

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

My heart took a leap and skipped a beat...

This pile of fabric is sited by the big sewing machine in HH HQ and people are always surprised to find that I pretty much know what is lurking in there, what treasures are hiding away amongst all the untidiness...!
People who visit the haberdashery emporium that is Halfpenny Home probably do not realise is that I have as much (if not more!!!) of an addiction to fabrics than they do!

Vintage floral Sanderson fabrics are secreted around the's not as if there's a shortage of fabrics anywhere in HH as anyone who has a penchant for our cotton poplin prints will know!

As I child I was so obsessed with fabrics and making things that this was my favourite toy, it's lived quite happily under my bed until quite recently when I had to sneak a peek at my WIP still 'on the loom' whilst making the projects in A Green Guide to Country Crafts!

It was my love of all things fabric-y that led me into my former career as a curtain-maker and I was 'paid' for work experience by one teacher with a metre of fabric exactly the same as this black oriental print - the original was lost many house moves ago but I found this kaftan in the dressing up box at the charity shop!

BUT, what could possibly cause me to get so excited when I'm surrounded by all this all day? I couldn't possibly need anymore fabrics...

*cue textile fireworks*

Well, it's these old curtains that have made my heart take a leap and skip a beat! The thought of making them into a suit has given me sleepless nights.... Just as I fell in love with my fabulous trade bike at first sight so it was with these lovelies, sigh! Thank you to the sock monkey making HH regular who tipped me off about them, cheers Fella!

So there you go, confession over and if you drop into see us at Halfpenny HQ I will probably thrust them under your nose and make you fall in love with them too! Best to just agree with me, it will all be over so much more quickly if you do and then we can just sit down and have a cup of tea!
Nic x

Friday, 10 June 2011

Bunting, sushi and curling up on THE sofa with a good book.....

We never miss an opportunity to get out the bunting and last Friday was no exception!

Janine, Events Manager at Waterstones, Ipswich kindly invited us along for a "crafty afternoon".
We got to show off some of the beautiful images from a Green Guide to Country Crafts

LinkAs well as lots of the projects we made for the book.

Our knitting needles, as usual, came along too!

I took the opportunity to have a go at some weaving!

As did Cherry when she popped in to see us!

Thank you to all at Waterstones for making us feel so welcome, making us tea and allowing us to take a little bit of Halfpenny Home to Ipswich for the afternoon!

Doing the book has meant we've had the opportunity to meet some local celebrities, and back in March, shortly after the book was published, we were invited to sit on Lesley Dolphin's sofa at Radio Suffolk!

We were given our visitor passes and shown into the studio area. We were both really nervous but Lesley was lovely and soon put us at ease.

Here we are on the famous sofa!

And as a small reward we had sushi to celebrate!

Suffolk has many hidden gems and clever people. Sue Richards, of Rodwell's Farm, in Baylham is one of those people.

Sue makes cheese on the family farm and being a long standing friend, kindly gave us some of her lovely cheese for our party that we held to say thank you to our families for supporting us during the writing of our book as well as all those who contributed to the book.

Alison (Jacqui's sister in law) kindly allowed us to host our party at The Barn Cafe, Alder Carr Farm, which provided the perfect backdrop to show off some of the projects! How pretty does it look?

Here's the calm before the storm!

Sadly, the wine began to flow a little too well and unusually for us, there are very few photos of what happened next.......

suffice to say, we were left nursing sore heads the next day!

Nic & Jacquix

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Flowery Fizz!

I've been planning to make Elderflower Champagne since Nic and I went to Lisa's Pudding Evening last year. I'm partial to a drop of fizz and love all things elderflower so the thought that I could make my own for a fraction of the price was very enticing.....if it works of course!!!

Having done my recipe research, I was raring to go. Despite reading several warnings about the possibility of exploding bottles Iremained undeterred! I've been carefully watching the elderflowers progress when out walking Rory and set off last weekend to gather my supplies.

The recipe is a bit of a hybrid of one I found on the internet along with Lisa's recipe which she kindly passed onto me.

Of course, some lovely summery lemons are included

And white wine vinegar from our favourite local cider producer, Aspalls.

Must admit, I was a little worried by the sludgy appearance of my concoction when I put the elderflowers along with all the other ingredients into my fermenting bin!

We've had a really busy few days at HH (more of which to follow soon) so it was just as well the brew required a few days fermentation period in the brewing bin! I returned to it today for the next stage. Taking off the lid and the muslin cover was a pleasant surprise. It certainly smells pretty good! I've strained it into the demijohns to continue its work. And there it will stay for a couple of months - if I can bear to wait that long! Must admit I did taste a tiny drop actually tasted pretty good so fingers crossed!

Must admit, it looks a bit like cloudy apple juice at the moment however, I'm an optomist and my bottles are ready and waiting to be filled!

Looks like Rory's already been at my brew!

A rare moment of respite!

I'll let you know how the Champagne tastes when Nic and I crack open a bottle in the not too distant future! And, so long as we're still here to tell the tale, I'll post the recipe then!

Jacqui x