english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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What (Not) to Watch While Crafting

I tend to do quite a bit of making with the TV on. It actually makes me a lot slower, but it does allow me to feel as if I’m multi-tasking (sort-of) and allows me to work through a few things I’ve recorded before the Sky box gets full!

However, there are certain types of movies/TV shows which don’t allow multi-tasking. You have to give them 100% concentration if you want to enjoy them. When deciding what to watch while crafting I follow the following simple rules:

What Not to Watch

  • Slapstick comedies (you’ll miss all the best jokes looking down to thread a needle)
  • Silent movies (you’ll have no idea what is going on)
  • Foreign-language movies/TV shows (you’ll drive your partner mad asking them to read you the subtitles while you finish a tricky section)
  • Natural history (you won’t appreciate the amazing photography)
  • Animation (this one is borderline as it can be done but you’re not really getting the full benefit if you’re only looking at the screen 50% of the time)

Chaplin painting

What to Watch

Anything else is acceptable, however the following are particularly recommended:

  • Crafty shows (good for inspiration. In particular I’d recommend Next Great Artist, but at the moment I’m enjoying Great British Sewing Bee)
  • Shows your partner loves but you think are only so-so (only deserving of 50% concentration anyway, plus you’ll win some brownie points)
  • Wordy shows with less than amazing visuals (e.g. history shows, some documentaries)

And of course you could always just listen to the radio…


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Fritillaria Easter Card

I was a bit slow making Easter cards this year, but finally got around to making some – just in time! I opted for a fritillaria design. The fritillaria image is a linocut print, which I’ve tidied up & added text to in Adobe Illustrator.
Home-made Fritillaria Easter Card


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Basket Weaving

Handmade Willow Basket
Handmade Willow Basket

Yesterday I attended a willow weaving course at Winterbourne, an Edwardian house museum in Birmingham. The course was led by Jonathan Ridgeon whose website features an article with instructions to make a basket very similar to the one I made, which is pictured here.

To achieve the two-tone effect we used a combination of willow without bark (the paler colour you can see on the base and edges of my basket) and with bark (the green colour used on the sides and handle of the basket).

I’d like another go as it took me a little while to get the hang of weaving so the base of the basket is a bit wonky, but It didn’t turn out too bad for a first attempt.

Handmade Willow Basket
Handmade Willow Basket


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Ice Crystal Chrismas Cards

Last weekend I completed six designs for Christmas cards. These will be printed on the cards I send to my family and friends this year.

Each design is based on an actual ice crystal (more commonly known as snowflakes) photographed by W. A. Bentley in the early 1900s. Bentley was the first person to photograph a single ice crystal, and went on to photograph more than 5000. You can see from my illustrations the complexity and intricacy of some of the snowflakes photographed by Bentley.

The cards are also available for sale in my etsy shop.

Handmade Snowflake Christmas Card
Handmade Snowflake Christmas Card
Handmade Snowflake Christmas Card
Handmade Snowflake Christmas Card
Handmade Snowflake Christmas Card
Handmade Snowflake Christmas Card


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LouLou Lino Print

A new monochrome linocut print, carved and printed last weekend and finally cut to size and framed this week. It’s sized 5″ x 7″ and printed on a pale purple card.

The image is based on a photo of Louise Brooks. Brooks fascinates me. Her life story is a perfect tragic tale, of a brilliant actress whose career was ruined by the studio system and her own unbending personality. I find that photographs of her convey a sense of that forceful personality, as well as her beauty.

LouLou Linocut Print

LouLou Linocut Print

LouLou Linocut Print