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Monday, 20 December 2010

Woolly Winter Wonderland!

Yes, we're nearly there - just a few more days!
Halfpenny Home has seen an awful lot of handcrafted presents planned and made during this last year. A handmade gift means so much more than a shop bought present as the recipient knows how much thought and care has gone into producing it. One of our Sew and Crow ladies, Michelle has really thrown herself into her crafting and presented me with this wonderful bauble wreath - I love it!

I on the other hand could not resist the temptation to knit up some of the Colinette Point Five that we have in the shop. This speedy one skein pattern is on the very wonderful Purlbee, the blog for Purl Soho in New York. It's really easy and comfy to wear, we need as many woolly knits as possible with all this snow!

Purlbee has some brilliant projects and I'm quite a fan! Jane Southgate and I have been looking for a long sock pattern for ages and couldn't quite find one that we liked until we saw one on the Purlbee blog. We had to get it and it arrived just before knitting...

It's this shaping on the back that really got us going!
It took me no time at all to start knitting up a pair in the hand dyed Wensleydale yarn from the Gedgrave Flock.

They are on hold for now though as along with everyone else I've got loads more presents to make and it's getting closer and closer to the big day!
Everyone needs to stop for lunch though and I can't knit and eat but I do like a read and luckily for me the current issue of Oh Comely magazine has just been dropped off.

It features our very own (Dolly Beth) Beth Davis with a delicious recipe for rhubarb pie!

Right lunch over, back to work! Halfpenny Home will be closed after Wednesday 22nd December and will re-open on Saturday 8th January 2011. Hope everyone's Christmas preperations are going smoothly, Nic x

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Crafty, Christmas Countdown!

Inspired by a craft tutorial in the current issue of Selvedge Magazine I decided to make gift bags this year to cut down on wrapping paper.
I bought one of these lovely ponies for my neice - Marion (one of HH's crafty mates) makes and sells them along with her delicious preserves at farmer's markets and craft fairs.
He's called Biscuit and to ensure that the bag fitted I measured him up!
This gorgeous print is some old unused fabric that had been put by for ages and I reckoned that this would be the perfect excuse to use it.
The pattern needs four pieces shaped like a bag with ears and although I made all four pieces the same it would also look really nice in four different fabrics...maybe the next one that I make will be like that!
When it's all sewn up you tie the 'ears' together and present to the lucky recipient, they get a lovely gift AND a little bag that can be used for ferrying toiletries or a packed lunch around and you get to help reduce some of the waste produced at Christmas - result!
It's always lovely to meet fellow knitters and the group that meet at the Brewery Tap are an especially nice bunch - a load of them visited HH this morning and we had a homemade Christmas cake to greet them along with lashings of tea!
There were sighs and gasps at some of the buttons, all the yarn was thoroughly inspected and you could almost see minds storing up ideas for yarn-y projects.
I even had a few ideas myself, the Katia yarn Ondas has been a big hit and we had some of the green knitted up into a scarf by Miss Pat, it's gorgeous BUT it also makes a great wreath for the door and being the blue door leading to HH it could only be trimmed with notions (of course)!
Hope everyone is enjoying the crafty countdown to Christmas as much as we are, Nic x

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Deli Day Off!

I had a day off from Halfpenny Home today and went off to visit my best mate who owns a fantastic deli in Norwich, and I love food so much that it all adds up to great way to spend a day off!
I was so very proud of Danda when she opened up Clarke and Ravenscroft as she knew exactly the sort of foods she wanted to supply to people and exactly how she wanted the shop in St. Gregory's Alley to look.
I love to visit Danda because as well as spending some time together I also get to stock up on loads of foody treats!
The gap in the cheese counter above is where the piece of Mrs Temples' Binham Blue was before I added it to my basket, yum!
I was under strict instructions from my Pa to not go mad on the cheese shopping - but I still did! Brown paper carrier bags straining I was dragged away from the deli to have the birthday lunch that I had come to Norwich for...the day was, after all supposed to be all about the Birthday Gal!

I (very) proudly presented her with a scarf knitted (by my not so fair hands) in Stardust Garland by Knit Collage - a beautiful yarn for a beautiful Birthday Girl!
Hope she's pleased with it, Nic x

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The textile artist Jane Southgate paid a visit to Halfpenny Home today - it's always great to see Jane as she always brings along plenty of cake and inspiration with her!
We helped Jane with a little natural dyeing in the Summer when we dyed some fleece, yarns and fabrics for her artwork.
To see more please do pay a visit to Jane's Blog where you will see some great photos of her work!

We were admiring one of the new Colinette Point Five yarns that Sam had test knitted up for us - Autum Leaves, it's so lovely with it's subtle browns and blues along with flashes of orange!
Just like the rest of us Jane is busy making a lot of the Christmas presents that she will be giving this year. She's made a fair few scarves of this ruffley yarn but not in this colour!

Jane had come along this morning to make some covered buttons with the button press in the studio, she'd done her prep during breakfast this morning - the circles of fabric needed for the die are exactly the same size as a plastic milk bottle cap!

Two cups of tea and a bit of cake later there's a whole load of buttons, a few knitting pattern problems solved and 42 buttons (+ the 3 that Jane did for me!) on the main HH work table.

What a great way to spend a chilly morning! Nic x

Friday, 3 December 2010

Carry on Katia!

At last! We've been waiting for this special delivery from Spanish yarn company Katia for ages and it finally came today.
The special knitting tape Ondas has been a hit with both knitters and non-knitters and has been responsible for turning the head of the most stubborn - 'I'm not ever going to knit again' and 'you'll not get me knitting' has been a phrase used by a few HH regulars...and yet some of these have fast become some of the biggest fans of this style of yarn!
You don't cast on in the usual manner instead you insert the knitting needle into the side of the tape. By continuing to knit only into the side of the tape ruffles are formed like this!

So I can, at last make all those phonecalls to let everyone know that it's here, it's finally here!
The Ondas was accompanied by Peru - a blend of 40% wool, 40% acylic and 20% alpaca. It's so soft and squidgy and will knit up as Aran which means that it would be perfect for that lovely new hat pattern that Jane showed me at knitting on Wednesday morning!

If it gets any colder I may have to make a nest in the box of yarn...Nic x

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Winter Warmer

There are not many things that will stop us making stuff together but this latest spell of cold weather very nearly did!
Anyone who has paid a visit to Halfpenny Home during the winter months (which last year seemed to run from October 2009 to May 2010!) will vouch for the fact that it can get pretty chilly there at times. In the past we have persevered, gritted our teeth and just got on with it but this year we have teamed up with Jane the landlady of the Rampant Horse Inn.
I first approached Jane with the proposal that the group of us who knit together on a Wednesday morning come to the pub for coffee and cake and she agreed to take us in! Platters of cakes and fresh coffee was laid on and everyone seemed to enjoy it, the regulars found it amusing when they popped in for their lunchtime pints!
Jane has also let us take over the restaurant on Monday evenings so the Sew and Crow ladies also get to craft in comfort and it's so close to HH headquarters (you can just about see our sign on the wall from the pub) which makes it the perfect alternative venue as we can just nip back to the shop for supplies!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Swedish Market

The day of the Swedish Market dawned, and with it a beautiful dusting of snow with further flurries during the morning - thank goodness we didn't have to travel far! We set up in the barn along with the other stallholders - helped along with mugs of tea and Swedish Christmas carols playing in the background.

The market opened at a very civilised 11am but we feared the weather may put people off! In fact, it seemed to do the opposite and people were queueing to get in! Just after we opened, Ulfie appeared with trays of 'fresh from the oven' cinnamon buns. The aroma was sooooo enticing.....we couldn't resist.

An added aroma, and very welcome winter warmer was the vodka infused gluh wein, also prepared by the Swedish chefs. It really hit the spot and I have to say, it was the best I have ever tasted. Guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit!

We thought the red gingham tablecloth would add an extra cheery touch to our display.

Alex, of The Natural Selection had a grand display of working timber kit machines which are really different - as well as a host of other lovely stocking fillers. You can check out her website at

The wooden painted reindeer and Christmas Trees proved popular - we just love the gorgeous green velvet ribbon adorning the reindeer along with their tinkly bells.

There were vintage items for sale too!

And Pat made this absolutely stunning scandanavian inspired bird and leaf garland - taking the idea from "Scandinavian Needlecraft" by Claire Youngs (CICO books). There are 10 birds, each hand embroidered in the centre with a different design. Just beautiful.

We had a lovely, busy day and after packing up our wares, managed to get home just before the sun was setting.

Hope you've had an enjoyable, if wintry, weekend.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Vote in the People's Millions!

Call and vote for The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts!
08716268803 btween 9am and midnight on 25th November
You can vote up to 10 times from any single landline phone and it will only cost you 10p each time.
Thank you, Nic x

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sweden comes to Suffolk!

Hot on the heels of the Swish last week, next Saturday we're back at Creeting House to take part in their Swedish weekend! Between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 27th November, Creeting House are hosting a Swedish Mini Market. There'll be Swedish Christmas decorations and gifts, speciality Craft stalls, Reclaimed & new gift items. There will also be gluhwein (mulled wine), mince pies and roasted chestnuts. We're also promised the opportunity to meet the Swedish Chefs Lars, Ture and Ulfie, who are travelling over especially from Sweden to provide swedish culinary goodies for the event. They will also be busy preparing authentic culinary feasts on the Friday and Saturday evenings at Creeting House.
It promises to be a really great weekend and something really different. With the promise of Gluhwein we couldn't resist so we will be taking a little bit of Halfpenny Home to Creeting House for the day.

If you're able to come along - we'd love to see you!
For directions to Creeting House, see the website at

Jacqui x

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Swish Report

Our swish preparations went well, with all of our swishers bringing really lovely clothes and accessories to swap. We had new clothes still with their tags on and all sorts of really good labels including Fenn Wright Manson and Jaegar as well as good high street names like Coast, Laura Ashley and Monsoon. We also had a vintage clothes rail including this beautiful beaded dress below.

However, with the swish just a couple of hours away, disaster struck - a power cut! We therefore had to hastily reschedule for the following Monday - everyone was great and thankfully most could make the rescheduled date. With everyone gathered in the grand hall at Creeting House, canapes made by Ali at the Barn Cafe were devoured, washed down with babycham, a very retro touch! Thankfully no problems with power cuts the second time around!

A fashion show followed with our models wearing items brought to the swish. Linzi wears a beautiful bottle green silk blouse and black trousers.

And Glynis looks fab in her mother of the bride outfit - bringing together an array of items brought to the swish.

Then, with our swishers champing at the bit, we let them loose to swish! Here they are in full swing!

We had a whole room dedicated to accessories ranging from gorgeous costume jewellery, shoes, scarves, hats and bags.

At the end of the swish, everyone collected the items they had bagged - I got some brand new black boots which I'm very pleased with.

There was very little left on the rails so, judging by this, everyone went away with something new to them and in the knowledge that they'd done their bit for the planet! As well as having a great evening we also raised a fantastic sum for the EACH Treehouse Appeal. We raised £755 on the night, which was rounded up to £800 by an anonymous donor the following day.

Before leaving Creeting House we enjoyed a celebratory drink of Lisa's homemade elderflower champagne to finish off the evening!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Standby for Point 5!

This was the sight that greeted me this morning when I rolled up to Halfpenny Home on my bike! The big Colinette order that we've all been looking forward comes in great big boxes and still tied in hanks not skeins. It's always very exciting to open up the bags and see the fantastic handyed wools straight from Wales.
Jitterbug sock yarn in Vatican Pie and Rio!
Point Five in fifteen shades - I got a little bit carried away with this order but who could blame me?
Look at all those colours! My favourites (so far) are Elephants Daydream and Lavender Lil but I've got a way to go before I've been through them all. I haven't even got out the new yarn from Colinette - Hullabaloo, it's amazing an Aran yarn that is made by spinning black fleece with the white so that when it's dyed only the white takes the colour, the finished yarn is delicious!
Only another 158 to go! Nic x