Saturday, 28 January 2012

A suitcase full of inspiration

Today I went on a traditional day out to the seaside. I packed my metaphorical vintage suitcase, boarded a train and headed for Margate. Although its glamorous glory days are long gone, Margate still has that magic and shoots of creativity and craftiness are beginning to push through the boarded up shops and derelict buildings. Dreamland still dominates the seafront but is now wrapped in scaffolding, ready for the dispute between the land owners and the council to be resolved and regeneration to start. As my dear friend and companion for the day pointed out when she dropped me back at the station,  the lights of the Dreamland sign are back on and that is surely a good indication of things to come.

List of inspirational places in Margate

Turner Contemporary Gallery
  • pretty much everything
  • the shop
  • the pop up cafe
  • Rodin's Kiss
  • Turner and his crackled oil paint
  • Hamish Fulton and especially the Margate 1234567 Walking

Margate Old Town

  • Frocks and Stock - how could I not love a charity shop with its own little haberdashery section

  • The Greedy Cow  - Brie and apple or halloumi and grilled pepper sandwich or both (if you are out to lunch with a lovely friend who's good at sharing)
  • Showtime Retro Furniture - complete confirmation that a vintage typewriter is just that type of 'must have' item that I couldn't have lived without for a second longer

  • Rough Trade - today was the opening of a collective of fabulous creative sorts, makers of beautiful things and traders of very lovely stuff
  • The Seventh Magpie - just love - love - love, there can never be too many shiny things or too much treasure
  • Sarah Hinds - mixed media extravaganza - colour, texture, text, form, light, shape - totally inspirational
  • Kirsten Jones - mixed media, beautiful tea party subjects with flowers and washing lines, dictionary text, letters and postage stamps, stitched, ink and coloured acrylics - a collage of treasured memories and imagined histories

 To be continued with the Emporium....

Friday, 27 January 2012

With a little bit of love

Friday is my favourite day of the week. I don't have to go to work, I get to go dancing, make things, do whatever I like for the whole time that the children are at school and I get to go to ballet.

I got a couple of cards made today with the beautiful yarn that I got from the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition I went to back in October.

I do like the colour combination of pale pink and grey. It has a dreamy, romantic feel to it. I do so like combining and laying textures and could have carried on making cards all day.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Home is where the heart is

The forward planning involved in running an online craft shop is mind boggling. It is barely the end of January and I am already feeling under pressure and running late with my valentine's designs although they can of course be revamped for the wedding season. Love and hearts are quite a universal theme throughout the year though and unlike snowmen or snowflakes there isn't a particular season or holiday. They can always be quite easily welcomed in any home decor theme.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed lino cut  until I did some for Christmas cards so now I've designed and printed a few hearts which I'm going to make into a banner. With so much going on in my life at the moment (as well as the comma not working on this keyboard) it's going to be a work in progress.

So far it's a bit of a mixed media recycling extravaganza and I have resisted the temptation to splash out on new beautiful papers from Craftie Charlie and use or reuse what I already have.

Scraps of brown paper in various shapes from recycled envelopes sewn on to cream card and then backed with vintage calico from the thrift shop.

A little bit of yarn made from shredded cot sheets and an old button.

Now they are waiting to be strung onto a banner.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The art of perseverance

Two years ago my life changed forever and I was no longer able to take my health for granted. Every day I focused on the good and beautiful in the world and created Ridgeway Cottage as a way to reflect on the important aspects of everyday. It worked. I blogged when I felt as if I could no longer face the world, I crafted my way through the dark days and I clung to the essence of my soul. Little by little, I started to see rays of sunshine through the clouds and claim back the things that are most dear to me. The focus on my family has been constant but gradually I have come to spend more time doing the things that I love. Since I was a tiny girl, dance and especially ballet have been my passions and although I have been attending dance based fitness classes at the gym, I really have just been going through the motions, despising my reflection in the mirror, sadden by the weight gain and the loss of my youth, agility and grace. Some weeks I didn't even want to go out.

This month I have really committed to getting back in shape and feeling happy enough within my body to dance again and things are going well. The art of perseverance is the only true way to achieve your goals and if I want to dance, I know I will. The dip in the sea on New Years Day has certainly revived my willpower and my ability to daydream.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Crochet Shorts

The craft ban is over as I have now finished replacing the zip in my boot. It took forever so I am very keen to get on with all the projects I've trying not to thinking about and putting to the back of mind. Up until this week, the thought of crochet shorts had not even been on my radar but I've gone back to ballet which is truly exciting. I really don't see why I can't go back to being my 1980s Fame loving, legwarmer and dance clothes wearing happy girl apart from the fact that all my leotards, warm up stuff and scruffy old pointe shoes have long disappeared. I would love some new knitted warm up shorts which of course got me thinking perhaps I could make some or even better can I crochet some.

I found my ideal inspiration but they did look rather complicated.

So I had to look for something a little less challenging and I found a great idea from Teresa Does It where she used a crochet jumper to make some shorts. Brilliant!

I found a black crochet dress at the bottom of my wardrobe and used a pair of leggins to make a pattern.

Altogether I had four pieces of fabric: two for the front and two for the back. Sewing them up was just the same as making a simple pair of shorts.

Ideally some black 1" or 2" organza ribbon would have been ideal to thread through the top for the waist band but until I get some, I just used some red ribbon from my ribbon jar.

I'm quite happy with how they turned out. I'll have to try them out on Friday at my next ballet class.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Craft Ban

There has been a distinct lack of crafting going on since the December Christmas craft a day postings , however this is not due to over doing it on the craft front and needing a bit of a rest. Of course my challenge to lose some weight is taking up some of my crafting time but the main reason is that I have enforced a craft ban on myself. Last year the zip in my favourite pair of boots broke and if I didn't ban myself from all other projects, I feared that I would never get around to fixing it. It is no easy task either and requires triple stitching on each side by hand through leather. It certainly is tough on the fingers although I do love wearing my Grandmother's silver thimble.

I've even given up my daily fix of Pinterest, craft blogs and Flipboard. It was all going very well. I collected a book called Indie Craft from the library and hadn't even flicked through until last night when I had a headache and went for a little lie down before the gym. Big mistake! It is crammed full of inspirational textile artists including the crayon sculptress, Diem Chau. Until last night I was not aware of her embroidered porcelain and now the flood gates of creativity have been flung open and it is very difficult to focus on finishing the zip repair when there is vintage tea cups just waiting to be embellished with embroidery.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The greatest loss

On the 7th January 1942 my Dad was born in the house we loved to visit as children, our grandparents home. I adored hearing the story from my Grandma about how the snow was up to the window and Grandpa had to go out and chop some wood for the fire. Today would have been his 70 birthday and he would have made the best Grandfather. He died 6 weeks after I graduated from University and I have missed him dearly every day. There is no greater loss than your father missing from all the special events of your life.

In memory of my wonderful Dad, I found an old photo of us together when I was tiny and crocheted a picture frame for it. It makes me smile and reminds me of how lovely he was.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The story so far

I have been away from Ridgeway Cottage for a little while whilst I set sail on a new adventure in the land of diet blogs. Unlike craft it is not so easy to find yourself a comfortable and cosy place. I quite like the notion of thinspiration until I discovered it's darker association with eating disorders and the dangerous world of Ana and Mia. As a dancer, there has always been a slightly altered relationship with my weight and I would rather be slender than overweight, superficial as that is. However even in my desperate state to try anything in order to wear a leotard again and return to ballet, even I realise that a 30 day fast surviving simply on water is crazy and not a New Year Detox programme. The reason behind the weight gain is rather sorry story and far to gruesome for Ridgeway Cottage.

So I've been over at 3fatchicks all week, making a pretty good start with my blog, Back to ballet and beyond. Please don't feel obliged to visit, as it has little artistic merit and portrays me as a complete calorie / pound / exercise obsessed bore but if you are a dear friend and want to see me back in that leotard, some encouraging words wouldn't go a miss and would be gratefully received. My life feels like it's been on hold since I lost Jack and it's time to grab it back.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


Last year there were quite few low points, a large number of highs, frankly it was bit of a roller coaster. This year I figured I have nothing to loose and if I gained strength of character and mind through the trying times, I may as well put them to the test and adopt a 'life's too short' approach.

Josie and I definitely share the thrill seeker trait. The other day at Wildwood, it was without hesitation that I threw myself down the 26 foot drop slide, shortly followed by Josie. The boys decided to give it a miss.

There is no better feeling than achieving a goal and last year there seemed to be so many times when I was unable to do stuff. So my first challenge of the year was to swim in the sea on New Years Day. Fortunately the weather was mild and to be honest I didn't actually feel as cold as I imagined. The tide was out so the most challenging part was walking out far enough to swim and it was really rocky. I went a beautifully orangey red colour but didn't shiver. It was completely exhilarating and to be recommended.

Next challenge??? Loose some of those extra pounds hanging around the bottom half of my body. I wonder if 10lbs is a little optimistic, although if I can swim in the sea on New Years Day, I can do anything.