Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sheep Thrills at Findon Sheep Fair

Findon Sheep Fair starlet

On Saturday we caught the bus from Worthing town centre taking a 20 minute ride out to Findon Village for its annual sheep fair. Findon Sheep Fair is famous in these parts but this is the first year I've visited. A fair has been held on Nepcote Green every year since 1261 and the Sheep Fair is said to have started on this site sometime before 1785. The traditional sheep auction no longer takes place but the event continues to have a Sheep Judging competition which includes a category for Young Handlers as well as a falconry display (which was excellent), heavy horses with rides in a trap, and a sheep parade. Sadly we missed the sheepdog demonstration but I'd love to return to see it next year.

The Sheep Parade, Findon Sheep Fair 2014
Findon Sheep Fair's most beautiful

The Harris family have had an association with Findon Sheep Fair since the 1940s and it was wonderful to see Harris's Old Tyme Amusements with their colourful, old-fashioned rides. All the patterns and lettering have been painted by the current fifth generation John Harris.

Harris Brothers good 'ole fashioned funfair
Harris Traditional Funfair

Hundreds of people turned out for the occasion but it seemed as though everyone except my small party had traveled there by car, with vehicles parked bumper to bumper on all the country roads surrounding Nepcote Green, a full car park and bleating rumours of gridlocked traffic preventing folk from getting to the fair. Car dependent herd mentality. The bus ride back to Worthing was hassle-free, just a 5 minute walk to the bus stop from the Green and we were home in time for tea.

End of show, Findon Sheep Fair

Monday, 15 September 2014

High Low Blouse: Burda 7220 - Version A

Burda Style 7220: blouse A

This is the first garment I've made in recent months that when worn has elicited the response "Where did you buy it?" instead of asking if I've made it myself.  I don't mind at all if people can tell my clothes are homemade, on the contrary I'm a happy ambassador for home-grown fashion but must admit this blouse is a tad more sophisticated and muted than my usual handmade creations and I am rather tickled that it passes as 'shop bought'!

The sewing pattern Burda Style 7220 contains two different blouses (A and B), both reminiscent of Issey Miyake's futuristic chic office wear of the late 1980s. The fabric is Sea Island Cotton by Peter Horton Textiles. It has a lovely dense weave and is smooth to the touch, crisp to cut, and wears and washes well too.

Burda 7220 and Peter Horton Textiles Sea Island Cotton

I decided to make version A first, a collarless short sleeve blouse with high-low hem and centre front gathers.  I drafted a longer sleeve to finish just above my wrist as I thought the above-elbow sleeve would be unflattering. Burda's sewing pattern instructions were quite baffling to follow but as soon as I discarded them and just followed the diagrams instead it was an easy shirt to make.

Burda 7220 version A: High Low Blouse details

The back of the shirt is dramatically long and will probably peep out from below most of my coats, but at this time of year when it's still warm enough not to wear a coat or jacket, I'm really enjoying wearing this style. In fact it's one of my current favourite things to wear and I'll definitely make another of version of A, just as soon as I've finished and blogged version B...

The finished item: Blouse A, Burda 7220

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Colour, texture and taste in Cologne

Two days in Cologne was not enough. Excited to be back in a city, the bustling buzz of the place hits you as soon as you step out of the station, as does the magnificence of Kölner Dom.

Kölner Dom

My heart quickened at the sight of a Gudrun Sjödén rickshaw just opposite the cathedral! We set off to explore cobbled streets taking in the sights and sounds, first stop the Gudrun Sjödén shop. 
The amazing Gudrun Sjödén mobile and her Cologne store
Colourfl Cologne

We stayed in Friesenplatz, a twenty minute walk from the city centre past dozens of art galleries, cafés and beautiful buildings both ancient and modern.

Kölnischer architecture

On Sunday we spent hours in the Schokoladen Museum where there is much to see and read, even if it presents a rather sanitised history of the production of chocolate. Worth a visit for the super collection of packaging and paraphernalia, you can also taste chocolate from the fountain on the factory floor. An intoxicating experience, we eventually stumbled out and made rash purchases in the Lindt gift shop.

Schokoladenmuseum Köln

Special mention for the best meal of our holiday goes to La Tagliatella, an Italian restaurant nestled in between the vast tourist eateries on Heumarkt. Here I ate the most delicious homemade pasta triangles stuffed with pear and gorgonzola. Also recommend ordering the enormous garlic bread - you will not be disappointed!

Pear and gorgonzola triangles at La Tagliatella, Cologne

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Postcard from the Moselle Valley

Mosel Valley, Germany

The rolling hillside banks along Germany's Moselle are covered in vineyards – hundreds and thousands of terraced rows of neatly planted vines rising up to the sky all the way along the sides of the river. It's an industrial landscape, a lush green factory floor for one of Europe's smallest wine regions. 

Vineyards of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Traveling by boat was best way to explore the quaint towns stretched out along the river. We visited Bernkastel with its cobbled streets, pretty colourful timber beamed buildings and tasted excellent kaffee und kuchen in Cafe Hansen; saw impressive Roman remains, enormous ecclesiastical architecture and stained glass windows in Trier; and while perusing Jungenstil villas in Traben-Trarbach chanced upon Handarbeitsstube, a fabric shop and needlework emporium with an impressive selection of bright organic printed cottons. I did not leave the shop empty handed!


Buildings in Trier, Trarben-Trarbach and Bernkastel
Stained glass windows at the Dom and Liebfrauenbasilika in Trier, art nouveau window from Hotel Bellevue, Traben Trarbach
Delicious organic cotton fabrics from Handarbeitsstube Trasser in Traben-Trarbach
Fabric shopping in Deutschland!

We stayed in Ürziger Würzgarten where my friends are campaigning to halt construction of the B50 High Moselle Bridge. The proposed gigantic concrete structure is the largest bridge being built in Europe and is planned to span a four-lane motorway across the middle section of the Moselle Valley. The project would severely damage the ancient Moselle landscape and have catastrophic consequences for the vineyards and villages in this region. 

Ürzig on the river Mosel, Germany

Ürziger panorama, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

For now the valley remains as pretty and productive as my pictures show, but in ten years time, who knows? 

Rhineland-Palatinate signage

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Amy Butler Cameo dress: Simplicity 2363

Amy Butler Cameo dress: Simplicity 2363

I spend entire evenings mooning over fabric shop websites and a recurring destination is Eclectic Maker's Going, Going Gone page of top quality fabric sale bargains. Spying a selection of Amy Butler fabrics there, I cycled over to Worthing's best fabric store the next day and snapped up the end of the roll of the Tea Rose Cameo print also buying half a metre of Hopscotch Cameo fabric to go with it.

Simplicity 2363 - before sleeves
An armless Simplicity 2363 - this dress can also be finished sleeveless

With such precious prints I wanted to make a dress pattern I knew well, and one that would suit, so returned to Simplicity 2363 - a pattern I've used again and again.

Posterior view: Simplicity 2363
Back view: Simplicity 2363

The finished frock is bright and summery, the material crisp and soft. I like the bold giant pom-pom flowers of the Tea Rose fabric, it makes for a really happy dress!

Simplicity 2363 details: sewn by Ivy Arch

I proudly wore my new creation to Wukulele uke jam on Sunday, accessorised with my Amy Butler Lotus ukulele case. I've made three of these uke gig bags, sold two but couldn't resist keeping the third for myself.

Ivy Arch Lotus ukulele gig bag

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Save The Elephant with Gudrun Sjödén!

Save The Elephant!

Every year more than 35,000 elephants are killed for their ivory. If the ivory trade continues at this rate the largest land mammal on our planet will be extinct within 10 years.

Inspired by the plight of the elephant, my favourite clothing designer Gudrun Sjödén is working with conservation network Ivory for Elephants (IFE) to help save the elephant in Africa. As part of her African animal themed autumn collection Gudrun pays tribute to these creatures with an exquisite range of elephant print designs and is donating £5 from the sale of every Elefant top to IFE to support their work in protecting elephants and rhinoceros, and reducing the ivory trade.

Gudrun Sjoden's Elefant top
Gudrun Sjoden's Autumn 2014 collection

8 Facts About Elephants:

1. Elephants can hear one another's trumpeting calls up to 5 miles away.

2. Elephants can get sunburned, so they protect themselves with sand.

3. Elephants are pregnant for 2 years. Imagine!

4. Elephants are scared of bees.

5. Elephants are herbivores.

6. An elephant's brain is similar to a human's in terms of structure and complexity.

7. Elephants care for the wounded and grieve the deceased. 

8. Elephants have one of the most close knit societies of any living species. A family can be devastated by a death, especially of a matriarch and some groups never recover.


To buy a Gudrun Sjödén 'Elefant' top visit www.gudrunsjoden.com. Find out more about the Ivory For Elephants project at ivoryforelephants.org. The classic BBC radio documentary Touching The Elephant has just been made available on CD.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Window Dressing: Harriet's Curtains - Stylish Dress Book, Y

Stylish Dress Book - dress Y

Harriet is a friend with an eye for print and pattern. We share an enthusiasm for novelty fabrics (see the Garden Gnome Party Dress I made for her daughter) and I was delighted when she kindly gave me the offcuts of the fabulous Antique Seeds cotton she made her wondrous new kitchen curtains from – to use as I wished.

Antique Seeds by Blue Hill Fabrics
Harriet's kitchen curtains in Antique Seeds by Blue Hill Fabrics

There was just enough material to make some panels and trim for a dress, so once again I returned to a sewing pattern that's a staple of my summer wardrobe - Dress Y from the first volume of The Stylish Dress Book.  A quick rummage through my wardrobe tells me I've made 7 of these dresses to date but hadn't sewn a new one this year... The Antique Seeds print went really well with a ditzy multi-coloured floral cotton bought at Worthing's Wednesday Market. I used Harriet's curtain fabric to make the bodice front side and back panels, and a matching border along the hem. I added pockets to the side seams - an essential improvement to this great dress design.

Stylish Dress Book Wear With Freedom: dress Y
Harriet's kitchen curtains

I'm ever so happy with the end result - it's the perfect attire for picking ripe pears in Harriet's garden.

Harriet's lovely pear tree
Medieval sleeve, SDB dress Y

Saturday, 2 August 2014

WW1 Centenary: Poppies and Produce in Beach House Park

WW1 floral tribute in Beach House Park, Worthing

Worthing's Beach House Park is an ideal place for quiet contemplation at any time of year. Monday 4th August is the centenary of the start of the First World War and to commemorate this event a bold giant poppy made up of small red flowers has been planted on the circular mound at the back of the War Pigeon Memorial. Tall red poppies have also been planted amongst the shrubs on the rockery. It's a beautiful sight.

Poppies at Worthing's Pigeon War Memorial

Equally impressive is Beach House Park's WW1 Allotment Bed, planted in May by Paul Eustice and Worthing & District Allotments Association. I've been watching its progress with delight and it's wonderful to now see the vegetables growing in abundance having survived weeks of drought, the recent flash floods and the ravages of local wildlife (insect, animal and human). The allotment has been designed to grow the food varieties which were available at that time.

WW1 Allotment Bed, Beach House Park, Worthing

During World War 1 Victory Gardens were encouraged for the first time in Britain as a means for the population to have food at a time when it was in short supply. In common with much of the country, many parks and green spaces in Worthing were turned into allotments including Denton Gardens (opposite Beach House Park) where the local police force were given plots to grow potatoes. East Worthing was known for its tomatoes, grapes and cucumbers.

WW1 vegetable patch, Beach House Park

A hundred years on, some the varieties planted in Beach House Park's WW1 commemorative allotment are still widely used by allotment holders and growers.

Beach House Park, Worthing in August
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