Monday, 2 March 2015

A Miscellany

Today's post is a miscellany of other people's delicious things! I hope you enjoy it.

When I was researching possible fabrics for making up an Amy Butler Gum Drop Pouffe a few weeks ago, I found myself disappearing down a rabbit hole when I discovered Ian Lawson, a photographer who has created an incredibly beautiful book entitled From the Land Comes the Cloth, a photographic and written journal telling the story of crofters and weavers on the Outer Hebrides as they manufacture Harris Tweed. You can look inside the book here and I defy you not to fall in love with the photography, but the words are just as captivating - do save it for a time when you can read as well as look. The book is eye-wateringly expensive, but once I'd looked though it, I found myself thinking that if there comes a point where something needs celebrating in treat-form, then it may be with the Classic Edition of this book, which is cloth bound and, I feel sure, probably worth every penny.

I think I'm a bit closer to deciding which fabric I'm going to use for my Gum Drop and it's nothing to do with Harris Tweed, but it was a welcome detour. I've only heard good things about the Gum Drop pattern and having recently found a new (or new-old, as it's a Victorian dining table with the legs sawn off) coffee table that's big enough to play board games on, we realised we wanted some low-level seating to pull up around it. I'll let you know how construction goes.

When I was gazing at the cloth bound books above, I suddenly realised that, while I'd posted on Instagram over the summer when it arrived with me, I hadn't shared here on my blog, my sister, Laura's, latest in the series of poetry books which she anthologises for Penguin, whose hardback editions have always been bound in delicious cloth (aside from Poems by Heart, which is a smaller book, more suited for tucking into your bag and bringing out when you're stuck on a bus and want to attempt to commit a favourite poem to memory). This is the problem with Instagram - sharing things there too makes it very difficult to remember what I have and haven't written about here, but I now, cunningly, keep a list on my phone of things I want to post about here, so that I should never be outfoxed by this problem again.

I know that many of you have enjoyed Poems for Life and Poems for Love, so I really want to mention Poems for Weddings. The beautiful cover design is again by Coralie Bickford-Smith and inside Laura has divided the poetry up into Proposals; Declarations; Promises; Celebrations; Continuations; and Confetti - a deliciously apt term for fragments and shorter poems, which I'm imagining would be perfect on favours, invitations and place settings. Poems for Weddings would make a wonderfully special gift for anyone who is planning a wedding.  And gulp. As well as being dedicated our parents, this book is also dedicated to me and my husband - a stomach-flip-floppingly lovely surprise when I opened it last year (it also includes one of my favourite poems, Love Adrian Henri).

If you enjoy poetry you can also hear my sister discussing Emily Dickinson's 'I Dwell in Possibility' with Steve Wasserman in his Read Me Something You Love podcast - I love the way this programme is produced with lots of quirky overlaying of clips. I was so pleased to find that my sister also often just reads a difficult-to-pronounce name in a book as a loose, slightly gibberish, interpretation of the word, rather than stopping to properly sound it out. I'd never vocalised that I did this, but I'm now wondering if many people do this? The discussion is also available as a free podcast on iTunes  - episode RMSYL 57. Coincidentally, I noticed today that Juliet Stevenson is reading Emily Dickinson at The Southbank Centre in London this weekend as part of the Women of the World festival - seriously considering going along to learn how to fashion the perfect headwrap, amongst other things).

Moving away from things bound in cloth, I don't read many blogs that aren't sewing-related, but aside from Cup of Jo, a New York-based lifestyle blog, I really enjoy the interiors blog, Apartment Apothecary. Its author, Katy, recently began a feature called 'Ask Apartment Apothecary', where you can write in with your very own house-related conundrums. Being a huge fan of Katy's style, I took no second-bidding and immediately sent Katy a very lengthy email asking her for her advice on what I should put in our empty, blocked-up fireplace, because nothing that I have ever put in there has seemed quite right. Today we have some daffodils sitting in there, but very often we have nothing at all. It is just a hole in the room. You can read her reply here.

Katy's answer was completely unexpected, but just the kind of insightful expert advice I'd been hoping for - as she didn't think the fireplace was the problem at all...but instead an issue with the overall balance of the room (unfortunately, my husband isn't particularly enthused by rebalancing the room when it involves construction work, but it's nice to know what the solution is if he ever does wake up with the curious desire to build some cupboards and shelves or to pay someone else to wield a saw on our behalf!). If you have your own strokey-beard home-related query, do write to Katy - she has a real gift for winkling out what might help, as well as not appearing to discriminate in the face of a slightly insane plea for help, in my case accompanied by a super-long email detailing every sorry thing that has ever been temporarily housed in the fireplace since it was built in 1927 (in reality only since 2006, but it may have felt more like 1927 on reading). You can read other posts in the AAA series, here.

Finally, a few weeks ago, Alice, owner of Backstitch, interviewed me for a new series on her blog called From Where I Sew. I enjoyed answering Alice's thought-provoking questions and you can read her post here (I always love reading articles where the questions have been edited out to make it sound more like a flowing series of thoughts, so I liked reading this as it felt completely new to me! It's also lovely to have someone else edit my thoughts into a more concise package than the sprawling, adjective-strewn form that they normally appear in!). Thank you, Alice. I'm looking forward to reading whatever comes next in the series.

I began writing this post last week and then went away for a few days with my sister, so didn't quite finish it, but I have so much more to tell you now! There simply don't seem to be enough hours in the week for all the blog posts that I want to write at the moment. Me and my husband are currently busy wrapping up a new soon-to-be-released app and a few weeks ago we ran a last minute competition, so that we could include some designs from the children who already use our apps. These competitions are my very favourite thing about our work - if you're interested and love looking at children's artwork as much as I do, you can see a handful of the entries here. I also love seeing just how close to the original artwork we can make the graphics too.

Right, I think that may be about it for today. I have an English paper piecing related give away coming up, so do check back later in the week for that.

Florence x

Ps. The picture of Nell's sweet little snout sniffing the daffodils actually melts my heart. I love that she appreciates so many of the same things as we do.


  1. The book about Harris tweed is just amazing ! I first came across it when we visited Harris and Lewis last year as there was a copy at the B&b we stayed in. The photos are fabulous and the accompanying words just perfect. The islands are incredibly beautiful and just so remote. Well worth a visit !

  2. I wonder if you could achieve the balance she described by simply putting doors over the lower shelves that are the same paint color as the walls - turn the shelves into cabinets.

  3. from the land comes the cloth is simply breathtaking, no wonder you fell in love with it, thank you for sharing. The gumdrop would look fabulous in Harris Tweed, its a great pattern and I have it sat with some fabric right by my sewing machine now - just asking to be made.

  4. The cloth bound poetry book looks really beautiful. Love Is by Adrian Henri is also one of my favourite poems! x

  5. We had a local carpenter build closed cupboards either side of our alcove (top and bottom, with a space in between in which we have lamps either side to light the spaces) and the open hole has had shelves put it, which we have books and favourite art objects on. It works very well for us. We now have lots of storage as the high cupboards make use of the vertical space but because they are white painted wood they are very unobtrusive. They are architrave framed, and the doors have beading detail, which looks good. Our friends had the same issue and simply put an awesome piece of carved slate art in their space! (Apologies if this comment appears twice in two forms - my first post seems to have been lost).

  6. What a beautiful post -- so full of lovely, thought-provoking topics. Thank you so much for the link to "From the Land Comes the Cloth". And I LOVE your bookshelves. I notice that your fireplace opening is about the same size as the framed quilt above it. What if you put another framed quilt in the opening (or to the front of the opening) -- it would look like matching framed objects on your wall? Just a thought!

  7. I'm off to follow all your links, which will take some time! But before I forget to mention this, I do hope you will decide to attend the headwrap workshop and feel inspired to share your experiments here. This is a selfish hope; I have a pressing need to learn this skill and my searches on YouTube have left me not very far forward. You describe things so well, and of course your process pictures are always illuminating.
    p.s. It makes me so happy that Nell has become such a dear part of your family :)

  8. I can assure you that the book "in real life" is stunningly beautiful on so many different levels. I hadn't seen the cloth bound one - but certainly a great idea for the perfect gift ( for oneself !) You would love the Western Isles - even in the wind and rain !


  9. Hello Florence, it's always such a pleasure to come to your blog. I've made 4 or 5 gumdrops and they are so easy to sew and so effective! I think you'll love them. As for your fireplace, my son's bedroom has one and it's got shelves and wooden toys on the shelves — it looks great and it's the perfect height for him. I imagine yours with no shelves and stacked full of old Penguin paperbacks... I love the idea of having some cupboard and shelves built to balance the room too.

  10. The 'Ask AA' feature is a wonderful idea...I wonder if they could help me sort out my conservatory (which is really a boot room/utility room but without a sink!) as I definitely need a better layout than the one I currently have! The Backstitch interview is great; I love reading about how people organise their spaces, whether it's sewing related or not!


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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