Meet and Make at Coast, Worthing

Christmas decorations at Coast Cafe, Worthing
The best Christmas decorations in Worthing can be found at Coast. Theirs are all handmade by the café's talented staff using repurposed or found materials: bunting made from torn leaves of a tattered novel; a driftwood tree; festive garlands strung with shiny silver kitchen implements (including a cheese grater) and chilies; pebbles and shells painted with goodwill messages; paper stars and oranges studded with cloves.
     Coast is the venue for the weekly Meet and Make craft get-together and has been our home since Mooey's Mocha Shop closed in June. Worthing has over 9 sociable stitching groups – there's a creative meet up in this town almost every day of the week and Meet and Make organiser Nicky Fijalkowska (owner/designer at Knit for Victory) has compiled a useful list of them.
    Undoubtedly Meet and Make has the finest views of them all and Coast café really comes into its own in wintertime. It's famous in Worthing for being a fair weather eating-outdoors destination, but is a haven at this time of year – the perfect place to sip a hot chocolate while watching stormy seas and changing skies. Or, on a bright winter's morning it's a beautiful spot to knit and natter while looking out across the glistening English Channel.

Meet and Make Worthing

Meet and Make is held every term-time* Tuesday morning from 10am-12pm at Coast, east of Splash Point, Beach Parade, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 2ES. 
*We're taking a break for the school holidays but will be back on 8th January 2013.

Back soon!

Cute critters from Mollie Makes

Mollie Makes cute felt toys
Of the well-thumbed Mollie Makes magazines on my shelf,  issue number two gets pulled out and poured over most frequently. It's my daughter's favourite and page 86 is the place she returns to time and time again. She has a penchant for cute Japanese graphics – pictures of cupcakes with faces, smiling milk cartons, illustrations of happy popcorn, winking sad clouds and absolutely any kind of kawaii critter. These Mollie Makes Cute Club palm-sized soft felt toys are her ideal creatures and she has spent several months pleading me to make them. With her 8th birthday approaching, I knew what I had to do...
making cute felt animals
Mollie Makes cute felt toyscute felt cat and dog
The templates for these felt toys and their über cute accessories can be found on Mollie Makes website. Apparently early editions of the magazine are now changing hands for large sums of money on Ebay, but you can buy pristine copies of back issues from their UK publishers.
Mollie Makes issue 2

Ukulele appliqué bags with apples, birds and flowers

Three new ukulele book bags are listed in my Etsy shop. There would have been four, but I love this wonderful Jane Foster fabric so much that I had to keep one for myself. You can snap one up here, but be quick - they won't be around for long!

Christmas ukulele gig bags

Christmas quilted ukulele cases
The month of Christmas is upon us and here are two new quilted ukulele gig bags with a festive theme made from fabric designed by Lotta Kühlhorn for Ikea. The pale blue one has a Scandinavian mountain landscape design with snow-capped mountains, winter berries and a mountain goat. The other is a rich bright retro 60s Scandi floral print which also seems perfectly Christmassy. Both are handmade in Worthing by me and are on sale now in my Etsy shop.

Vegetable lavender bag bundles

vegetable lavender bags
Stuck for vegetarian-friendly Christmas gift ideas? Then look no further. The latest addition to my lavender bag line is a veritable vegetable bonanza. Bumper bundles of these 1920s seed packet lavender sachets tied up with satin ribbon are on sale in my Etsy shop.
carrot lavender sachet
With names as evocative as Kentucky Wonder, Livingston's Beauty, Snowball and Icicle (better known as beans, tomato, cauliflower and radish), these bags look and smell as good as they sound. Available now.
cabbage lavender sachet

Postage stamp lavender bags by Ivy Arch

postage stamp lavender bag
For those who loved the stamp print ukulele gig bag but aren't quite ready to make such a bold statement, I've made some postage stamp print lavender bags from the same fabric. Sets of three and four lavender filled sachets, tied up with blue satin are available now from the Ivy Arch Etsy shop.
Your stamp collection starts here.
postage stamp lavender bag by Ivy Arch
stamp lavender bags by Ivy Arch

C30, C60, C90, Go!

cassette tape lavender bags
It's rumoured that cassette tapes are making a comeback. Hard to believe in an age of digital media but I'm one of the people who love listening to music on cassette. Maybe it's the fact that it's a physical medium where sound is recorded directly onto an object that makes listening to a cassette feel more vital than an MP3 file. A well played cassette's sound may distort and sometimes the magnetic tape will snap, but it's so rewarding when you've fixed it with Sellotape (after a fashion), rewound it with a pencil and when played again in a tape machine you can still hear most of the sound!
     My collection of mix-tape treasures includes Lex Luther's Revenge - a gift from DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, and an untitled compilation of contemporary Czech and Slovak music from Heather Mount of Tamizdat. The inlay card is decorated with a hand painted swirly blob and the track listing is typed onto a folded piece of paper. Both have been played repeatedly over the years and are objects I'd never want to part with.
    So, my third batch of lavender bags this week is dedicated to cassette tape lovers everywhere. They're sachets made from MiniModerns C60 fabric which has images of retro cassettes printed in bright colours. The fabric was bought from Clothkits in Chichester who produce a wonderful sew-it-yourself skirt kit in this material.

Cassette tape lavender bags are available now in the Ivy Arch shop.

cassette tape lavender bags

Perfectly punctual lavender bags

It's lavender o'clock in the Ivy Arch shop and here's the second batch of this week's new lavender bags. These beautiful retro clock designs are available for a limited time only. Go here for more views or to buy.

Typewriter Love lavender bags

typewriter love lavender bags
This week I'm listing three new ranges of lavender bags in the Ivy Arch shop. The first batch are made in Melody Miller's fabulous Typewriter Love fabric. They're deluxe and plump with fragrant French lavender. The backs are cut from Laurie Wisbrun's crisp and bright Flowers In Ice fabric, making them the perfect winter gift. Let the Christmas present buying begin!

Frothy delights of Bournemouth

Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth
Boscombe Pier
Bournemouth is beautiful in November. We had its vast sandy beaches to ourselves - though it was much too cold for even a paddle in the sea. Giant bubbles of foam washed onto the shore, looking like glistening clouds that had fallen out of sky. They turned into sludge in our hands, the magic evaporating.
     We walked east past dozens of brightly painted beach huts and chanced upon the streamlined elegance of a handsomely renovated Boscombe Pier. No noisy amusement arcades or derelict buildings here, just a magnificent runway out into the sea and calm clear panoramic views. The ice cream kiosk was closed so we bought hot chocolate and headed back to the town centre in search of Bournemouth's hot air balloon.
Postcard from Bournemouth, Dorset
View from Boscombe Pier
Clouds of foam washed ashore on Bournemouth beach

Postage stamp art ukulele bags

postage stamp ukulele bags
Inside the green cupboard in my lounge you'll find envelopes and boxes full of postage stamps. I began collecting these in my early twenties - the spoils of entry-level employment which usually involved processing the mail for an entire department (no matter how imaginative the job title). In the decades since I've made collages from them, sewed them into embroideries, set small stamps into resin cubes then put them into a concrete mosaic, covered books and diaries with them and most recently used stamps to embellish my reading glasses case.
     You can imagine how thrilled I was to find Prestigious Textiles have produced a range of furnishing fabric with an outsize British postage stamp print. Wow! I immediately bought a piece of grey/green oilcloth in the design and a vast length of mulberry cotton from which I've been making postage stamp themed ukulele items for my Etsy shop.
     The ukulele appliqué tote bags and gig bag would make First Class gifts for philatelically minded ukulele enthusiasts! Available now.

postage stamp collage diary
My postage stamp collagéd diary, 2003
postage stamp mosaic
Mosaic with postage stamps set in resin cubes, 1995
glasses case covered with Pathé News stamps
Spectacles case with Pathé News stamps, 2011

William Morris and Peter Hall ukulele gig bags

William Morris ukulele gig bag case
I've listed two more quilted vintage cotton ukulele gig bags in my Etsy shop. The one on the right is made from an original piece of William Morris Chrysanthemum fabric in muted browns and pale oranges.  The one on the left is cut from a stunning piece of Peter Hall's 1960s Candida screenprinted cotton in browns, black and white. I previously made a bag for a pocket uke in the orange colourway of this design.

Both of these gig bags are now available here.

Peepo! at The Quashetts

Wood knot holes at The QuashettsA walk down one of Worthing's ancient twittens The Quashetts becomes a game of Peepo as we peer through various knot holes in the wooden fences. Brief glimpses into other people's lives show us rusting garden furniture waiting for warmer days, well tended plants in terracotta pots, sprawling overgrown weeds in the next garden (a haven for wildlife), shiny polished double-glazed windows with a forbidding burglar alarm, abandoned moss covered children's play equipment and a solid brick wall built right up against the fence.
From our viewpoint not much is revealed but we feel like cat-burglars for looking. I hope no one saw us...

The Quashetts Worthing twitten with wood knot holes

A Festival of Fungi

Festival of Fungi mushroom

My daughter's participation in a Weather Watching course on Saturday took me to RSPB Pulborough Brooks and the Festival of Fungi trail. Searching for mushrooms felt like looking for fairies hidden in the undergrowth. The activity was completely absorbing and I spent an hour finding fungi with names as enchanting and sometimes terrifying as their appearance; Amethyst Deceiver, Green Elf Cap, Collared Earthstar, Yellow Brain, Jelly Ear, Tawny Grisette, The Sickener, Poison Pie, Lilac Bonnet and Hairy Curtain Crust.

Festival of Fungi

It was a clear, fine autumn day for a walk around the hedge-lined paths of the nature reserve - a twitcher's paradise. As well as wild and waterfowl I saw herds of deer, cattle and six still dragonflies.

Ivy Arch at RSPB Pulborough Brooks

Pulborough Brooks lies in the Arun valley and unfortunately is not easy to reach by public transport. We travelled there by foot, bus and taxi - an expensive trip but the only way for non-drivers from Worthing to arrive in time for the start of the course. However it was worth the awkward and circuitous journey to spend time in such an outstandingly beautiful place.

Pulborough Brooks

Ukulele book bags in jewel bright cottons

ukulele book bags with polka dots and owls
While browsing fabrics at the weekend, these jewel coloured cottons caught my eye. With appliqué ukuleles embroidered on top in bold polka-dot and owl print fabrics, these handmade book bags are cheery enough to brighten any grey day. I'll be making more appliqué bags in the next few weeks, but to snap one of these up now, visit my Etsy shop.

Same Sky - Seven Days in Worthing

Last Thursday, overjoyed at the bright blue morning sky after a gloomy grey week, I took a photo of the celestial view over my back garden. I posted this bright Pantone blue picture on my Facebook page. This small square patch was well 'liked' and seemed to cheer everyone up. I decided to photograph the same spot the following day at the same time of 9:20am. Seven days later an overview of a week's autumnal weather in Worthing emerges. Day 4's sky shows the criss-cross vapour trails left by the biplanes that fly overhead every Sunday from nearby Shoreham Airport.
     Of course I could extend this experiment to photographing the sky every day for a year, but I know there'll be days when I forget to do so. Then there's the 'What to do with all that footage of sky?' conundrum. I still have rolls of film of the view of tower blocks opposite my eleventh floor flat in Poprad, Slovakia in 1997-98 - photos of the same sight taken every day that I lived there, waiting to be turned into a great art installation. That's if I ever get round to turning the Dictaphone cassette tapes of announcements recorded at every Eastern European train station I travelled through that year into a musique concrète radio work for Resonance Fm first. Maybe one day...
    For now then, an ergonomic piece: Same Sky - Seven Days.

Quilted ukulele cases in rare vintage fabrics

Original vintage fabric ukulele cases
Five new ukulele gig bags have gone into my Etsy shop today. They're all made from original 1950s, 60s and 70s fabrics (a William Morris design, Bernard Wardle screenprinted cotton, Liberty prints and Heals fabrics).
     I've used a combination of channel quilting and free-motion quilting here. As a naive self-taught quilter I wasn't actually aware that was the name for what I was doing until my friend and sewing expert Leigh Otterson-Walter of Quilty Pleasures enlightened me!
Detail of channel quilting and free motion quilting on Ivy Arch uke cases
I love the look and texture of quilted fabrics and sometimes find the stitching on the back of the piece as interesting (if less colourful) as the pattern on the front. There's a secret work of art hidden away inside the lining of every ukulele bag I make. 
free motion quilting
Hidden back view of an Ivy Arch quilted ukulele bag
These vintage fabric ukulele gig bags are on sale now in the Ivy Arch shop.

Autumnal Equinox in Worthing

red tree in Homefield Park, Worthing

Autumn closes in. This glorious tree in Homefield Park boasts leaves of rich ruby red while the other trees around it are still green with just a few rust tinged leaves between them. It's a trailblazing tree, too impatient to wait for today's autumnal equinox!  Last week my daughter found her first conker in the Quashetts - the ancient twitten we walk through en route to school. Friday's journey home saw us colliding with cobwebs and we spotted three huge stripy yellow spiders invisibly suspended in mid-air.
   Another autumnal phenomenon in these parts seems to be the discarding of musical instruments in the street. I longed to take this upright piano home (but how to carry and where to put it?) and puzzled over the Westminster radiogram abandoned at the side of the road. Meanwhile the yellow rose bush in my garden continues to bloom, oblivious to the change in the air.

spider and conker
piano and red leaf
roses and radiogram