Wednesday, 10 August 2016

New Knitting Pattern Announcement: Lanhydrock Shawl & Discount Code

Lanhydrock house and gardens Cornwall
The best gardens seem to have secret doors!

Some places are full of patterns and shapes, and cannot help but to inspire creativity. Lanhydrock, National Trust stately home and gardens, set in lush green parkland, is one such place. As soon as I first visited and saw the formal gardens, abundant floral borders, and neat topiary I thought 'shawl design'! 

I got to work, settling on some beautiful 4 ply from my stash, and after a bit of thinking and scribbling on graph paper, this design was born: the Lanhydrock Shawl

Lamhydrock knitting pattern
Lanhydrock Shawl in situ...

I really wanted to make use of the formal, symmetrical garden layout in the lace motifs I picked, as well as those giant topiary trees. As in real life, the edge of my Lanhydrock is fringed by a wilder border area.

Cornish design
...inspired by the formal gardens...

I used a full 400m of Artesano Alpaca Silk 4 ply, in shade 'Dolphin'. The shawl is knitted from a tab cast on, and the trim is knitted on, making use of optional beads (mainly to help with blocking).

Lanhydrock shawl pattern
...patterns are everywhere...

I put the pattern out to test, and have had some really useful feedback, which has helped me refine the pattern quite a lot. Many thanks to all of my test knitters- your shawls look amazing and I really appreciate your patience!

knitting inspired by Cornwall
...the shawl is symmetrical...

I am offering my blog readers 25% off the price of this pattern until September 10th, using the code 'pixieblog'- simply enter it at the checkout on ravelry and your discount should appear. 

Cornish bue knitted shawl
Cornish blue to reflect the sky

shawl pattern knitting discount
...everybody loves discount!

I have a few more designs in the pipeline- I can't help but be inspired by beautiful Cornwall! Most of them need to be tested. Do let me know if you are interested in test knitting!

Lanhydrock House Cornwall

architecture at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

beautiful plants at Lanhydrock

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Review: A Visit to The Eden Project

The Famous Eden Project Biomes
The Famous Eden Project Biomes

Why Visit?

To my slight shame, we have lived within striking distance of The Eden Project for over a year and had not visited until recently. As clichéd as it is, we actually had no idea what we were missing!

A riot of colourful plants
A Riot of Colourful Plants 

A trip to this attraction is not just a botanical and ecological education. It is also a trip around the world, as well as, paradoxically, a real dose of Cornish fresh air, as witnessed by the pair of calling buzzards we saw wheeling about in the huge expanse of blue above.

It is a delight to see the sheer creativity and ingenuity that have come together to create the place. And most of all, it is a really pleasant stroll through the most beautifully maintained gardens and greenhouses imaginable. 

We have now been twice, and as I mentioned, I'm quite embarrassed that we weren't expecting it to be very engaging.

The Welcome: 

Without fail, all of the staff we have encountered at The Eden Project have been friendly, polite and helpful. Top marks for customer service!

Welcoming Faces
Welcoming Faces 

Getting Around:

Two words: 'sensible shoes'. The paths are wide and well-maintained, and there is a land train to help you get around this attraction. However, there is no getting away from the fact that to really take in the magic of the Eden Project you will need to do some walking. Ok, perhaps a lot of walking.

Exotic Floral Beauty
Exotic Floral Beauty

Looking after yourself:

Part of the magic of this place is that it is built in a converted industrial landscape. You can't even see it, despite its grand scale, until you are in it: think of a large crater. This means that in summer the Eden Project is a hot place, and there isn't much shade. And of course, the tropical biome (golf ball shaped greenhouse) is just that: tropical. There is a small water fountain, and plenty of places to buy a cooling drink, but I would thoroughly recommend that you wear a hat and sunblock, wear clothing in layers which you can take off as necessary, and take your own supply of water.

Mediterranean Tiles in the Biome
Mediterranean Tiles in the Biome


It's so refreshing that the quality of the food served here is amazing. We had a burrito (prepared in front of us in a completely open plan area) which was served with the freshest salad. Both were extremely tasty. We might possibly have indulged in carrot cake too, which was also yummy. 


I was surprised at the quantity and variety of things to buy at various shops around the site. I am no gardener, but even I was really thrilled by the selection of plants for sale. What a great concept in souvenir shopping: your very own piece of Eden!

Geometric Leaves
Geometric Leaves

Added to which, there were plenty of shopping bags, eco kitchenware, foodstuffs, recycled glass, jewellery... etc. Basically, a great place to find unusual gifts, and everything oozed quality. There was no cheap 'tat', which was really refreshing, but I'm not sure what you'd do if the kids are expecting a novelty pencil to spend their pennies on. Perhaps I missed that section- the main shop is huge so it's quite likely.

I was excited to see a selection of clothing by eco brand Braintree too.

Braintree Clothing

Plus, Pukka teas are for sale (see below for more on this).


To visit the Eden Project with a family as a one-off would be quite a pricey day out. Personally I would say that it is worth the cost, as you could happily spend the whole day there. However, if you think there is any chance you might return within the year, it would be better to buy an annual pass (for the same price as one-day admission). 

The Highlights:

The Eden Project is a huge attraction. Most of the time I was too enthralled to even take photos, and there's no way I've seen everything it has to offer, but here are just a few of my highlights:

1: The smoothie bar in the Tropical Biome. Yum yum!

Yummy Smoothies
Yummy Smoothies

2: The Mediterranean Biome: I loved this area. If you've ever been to the Med and walked around the countryside this will be a really nostalgic experience. If you're having a staycation, or just missing some sun then have a wander through here and drink in the atmosphere and the smells and make believe!

3: The Roul Rouls and their delightful little chicks: they scamper around the Tropical Biome, pecking at fruit, and are just too cute. But, you'll have to see them for yourself, as I couldn't get a single photo as I was cooing over them too much!

beautiful floor red shoes
Thoughtful Details: even the floors are beautiful!

I'd thoroughly recommend the Eden Project for visitors of all ages and all interests. There are play areas and story telling for the little ones, as well as plenty of space for them to run off steam. There are too many facts hidden amongst the foliage for one person to ever tire of, and even poetry if you look for it. Whether you are interested in taking in all of the engaging information on offer, or just admiring the immense botanical beauty, I expect that you will have a fantastic time. 

Oh, and even the piped music in the café space is a treat, if you care to listen out for it! 


Pukka teas evidently have a relationship with the Eden Project, and there is a little section devoted to the magnificent herbs and spices which are oh so good to drink. I found this really fascinating: seeing things like vanilla pods and cinnamon growing in front of me was quite exciting, as I normally associate these great-smelling things with jars and essences.  

Following on from this, there was also the biggest imaginable range of herbal teas for sale in the shop. Quite handy for me, as these are my favourite teas! I indulged in a box of liquorice and cinnamon, and I'm very pleased that I did, as it is supremely tasty. 

Pukka Teas for sale in the Eden Project Shop 


Vanilla Pods 

Pukka spices

Pukka Merchandise 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Winning Ikat Fabric from Mallorca

Med Style

The Balearic Islands are really special to me. 

I have been fortunate indeed to have spent many happy hours both in Mallorca and Menorca, but this is nothing compared to the 10 years plus that my beloved lived in the Balearics for. He tells me such stories of his youth there, the characters he knew and the spirit of the islands that I feel like I have also grown up there. 

Slow Fabric

One of the favourite places that I have visited is Teixits Vicens, where you can buy traditional ikat and striped cloth, and if you are lucky even see it being made behind the shop. You can also buy beautiful merchandise too, from deckchairs to handbags.

As you probably know, I am a massive fan of stripes- not to mention how keen I am on slow, traditional crafting methods, so this place is pretty heavenly for me! 

ikat fabric pollença
Fabric Heaven!

Winning Style

Recently, the lovely people at Vicens fabrics ran a competition on Instagram for items made from their fabrics. Well, I have a number of these, and being the fan that I am I decided to enter, with this picture:

teixits vicens
my handmade competition entry

I drafted the skirt pattern in an easy-to-wear A-line shape, with a yoke, a front pleat, and- of course- pockets and made this skirt some time ago. It has washed and worn really well, and the fabric is a great weight for all sorts of weathers. Here I teamed it with an organic cotton stripey top from Seasalt, and my vintage Levi's denim jacket for a trip to St Michael's Mount, which is where I'm standing. 

And guess what? I won first prize in the competition! I still can't believe it. Thank you so much, Teixits Vicens, I'm so happy!

Views from a Fabric Workshop

I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some snaps from my last visit to Teixits Vicens. The colours are just dreamy!

texits vicens

mallorca fabric

traditional ikat mallorca

traditional balearic colours

lilac threads for mallorca fabric

slow fabric crafting

My Balearic Wardrobe

Some of my favourite outfits incorporate Teixits Vicens:

dress mallorca ikat
LBD: little blue dress- my wardrobe is full of them

coral stripes balearics
this skirt goes with everything!

skirt for all seasons
perfect for Cornish days out

Thursday, 2 June 2016

June Monthly Giveaway: Fat Quarter Bundles from Fairtrade Fabric

Wow, not one but four giveaways this month! 

Free Fabric!

As you may know, I am running regular monthly giveaways, hurrah!

Each giveaway will be open for a whole calendar month, so you have the whole of June to get excited about this one, and then I will announce the winner and the next giveaway at the beginning of July (May's winner to be announced very shortly).

blog giveaway fabric
fat quarters by Fairtrade Fabric

This month I am thrilled to offer not just one, but four chances to win: those lovely people at Fairtrade Fabric have provided all of these amazing fat quarters from their powerloom range of designs by Susie Huson- see here. They are organic, fairtrade certified, and just adorable! 

They are perfect for quilting (amongst many other things). Keep an eye on the blog for an extra special tutorial featuring one of these prints very soon... 

To win a bundle, simply leave me a comment stating which bundle you'd prefer and what you plan to do with it- it's that easy.  

Win these FQ bundles: 

Bundle 1: 

fabric giveaway
Bundle 1

cute organic fair-trade fabric
Bundle 1

Bundle 2:

worldwide free fabric
Bundle 2

free fat quarters
Bundle 2

Bundle 3: 

fair-trade organic fabric
Bundle 3

organic fabric giveaway
Bundle 3

Bundle 4: 

win fat quarters
Bundle 4

free fabric
Bundle 4

What's the Catch?

No catch! There are generally no conditions attached to my giveaways, I'm just giving away either treasures from my stash, or as in this instance items kindly provided by other companies. I hope that you will stay a while and read some other posts, perhaps even leave the odd comment, but that's entirely up to you. 

This particular offer is open to everyone, wherever you are in the world. 

If you'd like to be considered please just leave me a comment below, and that's it, consider yourself entered- it really is that simple. If for some reason you can't comment then you can use the contact form instead.

If you share a link to this page on social media and let me know you have done so I will put your name down twice for an extra chance at winning.  

Tip: to be sure you never miss a giveaway, or more importantly a notification that you might have won, why not subscribe to my blog...? It's easy, and you'll find where to do it on the top right ---->

Thank you's: 

Thank you again to Fair-trade Fabric for providing such wonderful giveaway prizes, and thank you dear readers for stopping by and for entering. Good luck to you all!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Barrel Bag Sew Along Instructions: Week 5

The final step is here! Well done if you've been keeping up with the sew along, and thank you so much for taking part. I have really enjoyed seeing your bags come together. 

Don't worry if you are worried about losing your place in the instructions: I am planning to archive them all in one spot so that they are easy to find for future reference.  

how to make a bag
barrel bag

Finishing Touches:

Seam Finishing: 

The next thing you need to do after last week is finish the inside of your round seams: I have bound mine using the 4cm bias binding. It is a professional and also pretty finish to have on the inside of your bag. If you want to request a tutorial in how to bind seams please go ahead and use the contact form. 

Or, you can overlock the raw edges together- it is quicker and also very strong. 

Making the Strap:

Cut 2 x 10cm lengths of webbing, and also 2 x 7cm lengths. Then, have a look at your remaining webbing and decide how long you would like your shoulder strap to be. 

Don't forget that the buckles themselves will contribute to the length, and you should also allow about 3cm for the loop of webbing used to attach them (see picture below)- the overall length of buckle plus webbing loop is about 7.5cm each end of the strap. 

how to make a barrel bag
bag strap detail

You also need to add 1cm seam allowance each end of your strap. 

Once you are satisfied that you have identified the correct length of webbing, cut the strap to length. 

Take a 10cm piece of webbing, fold in half long ways and topstitch. Thread this loop through your buckle, then sew the loop closed. 

bag instructions

Place this loop onto a shorter 7cm piece of webbing and sew them together near the top. Make sure the buckle has its opening side facing down as pictured. The webbing loop should overhang by about 1cm: this is to stagger the bulk of the seam and also to ensure the rivets will go through it.

merchant & mills sew along

Then, place the strap onto the buckle to sandwich it into place, and sew, taking a 1cm seam allowance from the strap and the 7cm webbing. 

barrel bag tutorial

learn to sew a bag

Now, press this seam so that it lays flat, and press the raw edge of the 7cm webbing, turning 1cm over. 

Topstitch around the sides and top of this shorter piece, attaching it to the main strap. 

make a strap with buckle

sewing instructions

Repeat this process for the other end of the strap. 

Now, making small pilot holes with an awl or a sharp pair of scissors, hammer the rivets into place, arranging them as you like, but preferably add strength by holding all of these layers of webbing together. 

The last step:

One (optional) finishing touch is to sew your handles together longways for strength and ease of use: find the midpoint at the top of you handles, then measure and mark 10cm either side of this. 

Fold your webbing in half along this 20cm, and sewing close to the edges topstitch both sides together. 

merchant & mills linen bag
love that 'Quink' linen

And you're done! 

Well done and thank you again for joining in the sew along. Don't forget to keep tagging me in your finished results on twitter and instagram!

With thanks once again to Merchant & Mills for kindly supplying the materials for this project. 

home sewing bag tutorial
barrel bag from Merchant & Mills materials