Monday, 29 July 2013


I have just returned from a trip up to the ancestral home lands.
My Grandmother's family all came from Bolton Lancashire.
I have written about my Great Aunt Thora before.
It was in her village that we used to get the little red clogs made.
My Mum now lives in Auntie Thora and Uncle Jimmy's cottage up on the moors above the village of Tottington.

Of my Great Grandmother's daughters only two did not go to work in the textile mills.

Winnie the eldest was apprenticed to her father a tailor and Patty my grandmother who ended up marrying well, even if he did come from near London, having 3 children and moving to Africa.

My mum tells tales of being taken to the mill to visit her Aunts as a really small child and being terrified by the noise.

This weekend we all visited the Queen St Mill in Burnley.

The only working steam driven textile mill left in the world.

The steam engine was hypnotic, the looms deafening, the glimpse in to my family's past compelling.

I can't recommend a visit enough.

There is something for every one, the steam loving engineering geek, the textiles geek, the history geek.

Every one working there was knowledgeable and welcoming.
I was in paradise, the boys were transfixed.
They sell calico and towels woven in the demonstrations and some seconds of lovely bright fabrics bought from old stock.

I may have bought some.

I may have taken a lot of pictures.

Love Nora xx

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I recently got asked to make some signs for a children's treasure trail to be held in and around one of my favourite places in South London.
The Rookery was one of our constant haunts when we still lived in Streatham.
This year is a very special year, it turns 100.
So it felt great to be able to give something back.
A thank you for the many summer days spent in the shade of the cedar tree eating picnics.
Hours spent rolling down the hill when its dry and sledging down it when it's snowing.
So many camps have been built in the trees and time well spent soaking ourselves in the sprinklers.
So when the lovely people at The Streatham Festival asked me to do this one last job, how could I refuse?
There were 18 stops on the trail, I'm not going to show you all 18 signs because quite frankly that would be a bit of over kill.
So here are some of my favourites.

"Splash" at the paddling pool

Roll down the hill.

Run  to the Cedar tree.

Make a wish in the wishing well.

Draw the logo for the Rookery's centenary.

Find a tennis ball at the tennis courts.

The rose arbour at the White House in Norwood Grove.

What's you favourite flavour of ice cream at the cafe?

The signs were about half the size of an A4 sheet of paper and I had great fun raiding the scrap box to find just the right colours of fabric for the details.
Sadly I was so busy with the Make Your Own Fete I couldn't make it up to the top of the common to see them in place, but I have been reliably informed they looked great, and are going to be used again at future events.
I'm off for a few days now, taking the boys to the ancestral homelands in the North.
So I will see you all on the other side, have fun!
Love Nora xxx

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The pain of moving house is becoming a dull roar in the background of my memory.
The horror of having to sort out the accumulated years of hoarding is fading.
The resolution to throw every thing away from now on in is being slowly forgotten.

What to do with the edge of this beautiful lace.
Oh! oh! oh! bin? scrap box? box of interesting bits for students? or straight on to the treasure shelf?
I think I may have to sleep on it.
Love Nora xxx

Monday, 22 July 2013

I have become a bit obsessed with tin cans.
When my little brother and sister were over recently we spent a morning bashing some with nails and spraying them with colourful paints to make tea light holders.
Much fun was had with somewhat mixed results. Which are now safely back in France, so I can't share. 
I started trawling the internet for inspiration as to what to do with the pile of tin cans in the recycling.
I found this very simple tutorial.

The boys love a bit of tuna , on bread, on pasta, on baked potatoes.
I have been busy recycling the cans to make these beauties.

I cut up some old dress pattern envelopes to cover the outside of the tins and scraps to make the pads.

They were so quick and fun to make.
Whats not to like?

I thoroughly recommend it if you need a quick crafty fix.
The ones I made went down a storm in the crafty tombola at last weekend's Make Your Own Fete.
Love Nora xxx

Sunday, 21 July 2013


No pressure.
No deadlines.
No workshops.
No work.
Just the four of us.
The beach.
The sea.
The sun.
A pizza.
Love Nora xxx

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

So many of you left wonderful comments on this post about the gold sequinned dress I was making.

I have been  busting to show it to you all, but I had to wait.
Now the show has opened.
I went to see it last night.
I loved it.
So what was it for?
Well, if you have been tuned in to facebook today then you will probably have worked it out already.
"The Color Purple" at the Chocolate Factory in London Bridge.

The dress is for Nicola Hughes who plays Shug Avery.

I don't often talk about the day job here, but a while ago I thought may be I should start.
Not all the time, but when I work on something interesting may be I'll share it here.
Love Nora xxx

The show photos above were taken by Alastair Muir for the Standard for the first and Tristram Kenton for the Guardian  for the second.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

I know I do some silly things, but a tutu for a giraffe?
But there you go, that is what yesterday had in store for me.
Gathering my many years of costume making experience under my belt I set to.
It worked so well I also made a ruff for a black panther.

But why? I hear you cry.
Well this Saturday is the day of the Crafty Pint "Make Your Own Fete".
A summer fete with a crafty twist a side order of haberdashery and a huge dollop of make do and mend.
In fact its all I can think about at the momnet. The to do list is long. 
Very long. But it is shrinking, though may be not quite as quickly as I would like.
So if you want to make a Tutu for a giraffe, a cape for a dog a leotard for a rabbit or even a hat for a bear come along and join in the fun with the toy pet parade.
This Saturday 11 - 3 at The Railway, 2 Greyhound Lane, Streatham, SW16 (right next to Streatham Common overground).
There will be many stalls and activities with a crafty leaning for you to try your hand at, and games of chance to win haberdashery prizes on.
Come one, come all and bring your toy pets!
Love Nora xxxx
Ps, tomorrow I will return with a tale of the tuna-tin-can-pin-cushion.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Have I ever told you I have a broken thermostat?
The Hippy claims I am only comfortable for about two weeks a year, one in the spring and one in the autumn. The rest of the time I am either boiling and frozen, once when I had malaria both at once but that as they say is another story!
So really Sunday morning was not the morning to go and wander round a field with no shade full of stalls. Especially when I had no hat, no water and two hyperactive attendants. 
We wandered up and down up and down but really there was nowt.
Early on the Bombshell spotted something and started signalling frantically to his personal banker.

I started chatting with the lady on the stall who seemed to be finding it hard to name her price.
We love home made wooden toys. Probably for the same reason I love old embroidered napkins. 
Someone sat down and made this truck using his own hands, probably in his shed, probably smoking a pipe and drinking a cup of tea whilst dreaming of the pint of ale he would be downing later that evening at the local. He made it for someone he loved and he poured his love in to the making of it, all the time anticipating the look on the child's face when he gave it to them.

I said more or less this to the lady, I may also have mentioned that I wouldn't have been able to part with it.
She signed, "But you just can't keep everything can you?" she replied.
"Both my boys played with it" she said,"and my grand kids"
"Blimey" I said "are you really sure you want to do this"
Another sigh and a long look at the Bombshell who by now was riding up and down the path on it.
"Well, he looks as though he's going to play with it, so long as its played with and appreciated I don't mind it going" She said.
It turns out her Step Father made it for one of her son's (now in their 30's), there were many things made over the years and they have both decided to keep their hand made rocking horses.

Once the bombshell has had his fill of this lovely, loved toy we will put it with all the other very cherished toys we can't bear to part with on the shelves of our home, to be taken down and dusted off whenever little people come to play.
May be one day I will be standing in a very hot field trying not to be sad when an excited little boy rides it up and down the path.
Then just as I could take no more of the heat and thought I was going to melt I found two of these beautiful chairs.

So then we could all go home happy, The Ginger one had bought a pile of old Guinness world record books,  even if the bags weren't as full as they usually are.
Love Nora xxx

Sunday, 7 July 2013



The kitchen is heavy with the heady scent of elderflowers.

In a few weeks the corks will be popping.
Happy days.
Tomorrow I will be back with a heat warming tale of carbooting glories.
Much Love to you and yours.
Nora xxx